Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring may be viewed as a film deeply engrossed with Buddhism; yet, it is also about life. And maybe that is the point - much of the essence of Buddhism is no separation between the practice and actual life. To support the meditative Buddhist perspective, filmmaker Kim Ki-duk elects using visuals to tell much of the story, thus avoiding preachy dialogues that would have, otherwise, come off as pretentious. From the selection of the tale’s location -- a floating small hermitage on a magical isolated lake, surrounded by mountains, to the interactions between the two principle characters, an old monk and his young disciple, with their surroundings, Ki-duk aims at making the film a transcending experience. Some viewers, familiarized with the Buddhist philosophy, may discard it as a shallow attempt at presenting a complex belief system. Others, with no interest in spirituality, may miss many of the rich metaphors. Yet, in my opinion, Kim Ki-duk succeeds in achieving his goal; as he was quoted saying, 'I intended to portray the joy, anger, sorrow and pleasure of our lives through four seasons and through the life of a monk who lives in a temple on Jusan Pond surrounded only by nature.'
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring is mystical, serene, violent, naive, occasionally somber, and, at times, mischievous. It is a wonderful film, well-worth a repeated viewing.