Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter. . .and Spring

2003 Buddhist drama

Rating: 18/20

Plot: A Buddhist master tries his best to train a pupil, but the kid's awfully horny. He does a lot of "one-hand clapping," if you know what I mean.

That "one-hand clapping" joke should win me an award. Are there awards for blogging? There has to be, right? I'd do the research, but I have a few of these things I have to write tonight and not much time. Bloggies? Anyway, if any of you guys who read that plot synopsis can stop laughing long enough to submit my blog for an award, I'd appreciate it.

I had guessed that this one-setting film would be quiet, meditative, and probably a little boring. I couldn't have been more wrong. This had Fast and the Furious action compared to what I had predicted. I was surprised at how much drama they managed to pack into this while at the same time staying very simple, as well as quiet and meditative. After the first chapter, which you could probably guess covered spring, I thought each installment might work like a little koan. The first certainly did as the kid, in the spring of his life, makes a mistake and then has to suffer both immediate and ultimately long-term consequences. I didn't expect the individual chapters to work together so well to tell a cohesive story.

The kid is played by various people, but the old monk stays the same--Yeong-su Oh. He's really good, especially when he's not saying a word. It's an actions-speaking-louder-than-words type performance, and he manages to create this character who the audience learns as much from as his young follower. There are a handful of moments in this that I'd describe as touching, and none of them wouldn't have worked if I didn't buy that this guy was really a monk on this little floating monastery. Oh nails it.

I really want to live on a floating monastery. There would be drawbacks. I'd have to stop watching movies and doing this blog, for example. But I definitely wouldn't grow tired of the surrounding landscape. It was stunningly beautiful, and watching the setting change with each new season gave it all this wonderful poignancy.

Sex on a floating monastery. That's been added to my bucket list.

I'm not Buddhist and likely missed some of the symbolism. What, for example, do the different animals represent in Buddhism? I actually know the answer because I looked it up on the always-reliable Wikipedia. Even without understanding all of the symbolism in this movie, however, there's no way a person is going to watch this and not get something out of it. It's the type of movie that I watch and end up feeling like a better person afterward.

But not a good-enough person to keep from making zen masturbation jokes.

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