Director – Ki-duk Kim
This is a beautiful Korean film (2003) that captures your imagination with its heavenly scenery. The whole story is shot in a hut floating in a serene lake surrounded by tall mountains.
An old Buddhist monk lives in the hut with a mischievous young boy – one who ties stones to frogs, snakes and fish with a thread and enjoys their predicament. The master teaches him a lesson one day by tying a big stone to his back. (Spring)
When the boy grows up, he gets attracted to a young girl who had come to stay with them to heal herself. When the master discovers their liaison, he asks the girl to return. However, the boy misses her so much that he runs away in search of her.(Summer)
Many years later, he returns to the hut a dangerous criminal. The police soon catch up with him and take him away. (Fall)
The master dies. Winter sets in. The lake is frozen completely. The prisoner has completed his sentence and returns to the hut, a changed man. He puts the hut back in order and trains himself. One day, a woman abandons her baby at the hut.
When the baby grows up into a young boy, he is shown to torment snakes, frogs and fish by putting stones in their mouth. (Spring)
In most films, there is an ending – a resolution of the tensions that are built up during the story telling. However, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring is a true buddhist movie as it does not have an ending because the ending is simply another beginning.
Like the seasons, our life moves through stages and almost everyone experiences the same emotions, childhood antics, sexual attraction, agony of separation, anger, and repentance of actions. Life is a powerful stream through which we flow and experience different things just like changing of the seasons.
There is another Korean film which I find to be very similar in theme – Why did Bodhidharma come to the east?