The final piece in the Cultural Film & Lecture Series, “Struggles of the Spirit,” is the Korean film “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring.” The themes focus on natural surroundings and faith and thus serve as a perfect culmination for the various spiritual journeys portrayed in the Series throughout the semester.
The images of nature are readily apparent as writer/director Kim Ki-duk uses his background as a painter to create an aesthetically vibrant work of art. The film is full of beautifully framed shots, focusing on the delicate wonders found in the arboreal and mountainous landscape.
What makes “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring” more interesting however, is how different this film is from Kim’s previous works. His other films deal with disturbing topics such as prostitution and serial killings.
Although the subject matter is very different in “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring,” Kim uses his same artistic sensibilities to create a different, subtler, yet equally powerful film. When discussing the reasons for the change, Kim said, “I feel like I’ve been living life in a rush, so I wanted to slow down a little and make a movie like this.”
The film itself follows the story of an unnamed male character’s transition from boy to man, with the changing seasons corresponding to different phases of his life. Kim utilizes Buddhist teachings regarding the relationship between nature and spirituality to explain how a person should strive to comprehend nature in order to achieve enlightenment. As a result, the themes regarding the reciprocal process of nature and the struggle to understand meaning in life become central to the film.
The story begins in the springtime where the young boy serves as an apprentice to an old Buddhist monk. Spring serves as a symbol of youthful innocence, where the boy represents the season’s elements of beauty, curiosity and impulsive cravings.
The next stage comes during the summer to symbolize the passion and vitality of adolescence. The third part occurs in autumn and shows how the now grown man loses his way in life and thus searches for meaning through the Buddhist ideal of deconstructing one’s character, which is similar to that of a tree shedding its leaves. Next, winter shows how the man subsequently wakes up from the stagnancy and numbness of winter to find a new lease on life in the spring. This stage of winter to spring marks the final transition from death to rebirth in the natural procession of the seasons, which in turn matches the life of the man.
The film’s subtle touches focusing on Buddhist spirituality, nature and the struggle of the spirit make it a must see in the cinema this weekend.
“Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring” will be screened four times in the Connelly Center Cinema: Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 3:30 and 7 p.m. and April 24th at 7 p.m. Admission is $3.50 for students with ID and $5 for everyone else. The Monday showing only will feature guest speaker Gustavo Benavides from the modern languages department, who will provide an intro to the film and lead a discussion afterward.
For more information, please call X9-4750 on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., or consult the CFS web site: www.culturalfilms.villanova.edu/