Entertainment Weekly - 09/10/2004
"The wistful soundtrack meshes sublimely with the visual narration, conveying a deeper sense of the pupil's trials."
Prayer, meditation, and appreciation of nature are the sacraments by which two monks live a simple life in Korean director Kim Ki-Duk's SPRING, SUMMER, FALL, WINTER... AND SPRING. A wise old monk (Oh Young-soo) is master to a young student, and remains so throughout the changing seasons of the younger monk's life. In springtime the young monk is a 5-year-old boy, in summer he is a teenager, in fall he is a 30-year-old man, and in winter he is in mid-life. The master and his student live in a tranquil house that floats in the middle of a pond hidden in a vast woodland. Paddling their row boat to the edge of the pond, they roam the forest collecting herbs for medicine, observing animals, and learning deep lessons about life. When a woman brings her sick daughter to the monks to be healed, a lustful relationship results between the daughter and the teenage monk. Though sex is the appropriate cure for the girl, the affair is a harbinger of evil for the monk, whose innocence is replaced by corruption. After paying for his sins over the course of many years, the monk finds inner peace and is reborn. A spiritual soundtrack and superb nature photography make this film a joy to watch, and its story is rich with messages about forgiveness and inner peace.