Sofia Film Fest in Plovdiv - Personal Report and Impressions (part III)
The last one, “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring Again” (2003) is completely different. It is a deep spiritual drama, directed by the Korean Kim Ki-duk. The movie is divided into 5 chapters, the seasons from the title. The story takes place high in the mountains where a small isolated Buddhist temple is floating in a lake. There an old monk teaches a little boy harsh lessons about life. Years later, the grown boy falls in love with an ill girl, who came to the temple to seek cure. Her body is unharmed, but her spirit is troubled. She finds salvation in the boy’s love. Here we have some erotic scenes, I guess they were meant to be pure and innocent looking, but there’s nothing really remarkable about them. Later on the boy leaves his old life behind and escapes from the temple to be with the girl. He returns years later, haunted by his horrible deeds, done because of jealousy. Silence and long nearly motionless scenes are OK with me, the pictures tell their story. The open shots are beautiful and inspiring, but in such location it will be spectacular even if you shoot the birds’ drops on the roof of the temple – it all just looks peaceful and harmonic. I guess the western audience will be more fascinated than me, but I’ve seen more than one Asian movies and a lot of anime titles, so I am used to such motives. The first fragment, “Spring”, about the boy’s youth was the most interesting for me, simple but strong. I am not really into topics like romantic love, sexual desire, lust and jealousy, but I like the way the movie shows how love makes one to be blind and to betray his principles. I look at it as a different approach to the story about the fall of the good man to the Dark Side. The old monk’s words were very close to Yoda’s “Attachment leads to jealousy. Shadow of greed that is. Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” The story is not necessarily trying to push you some religious Buddhist wisdom, it tells about the circle of life, the mistakes one can make blinded by feelings. It is a masterfully shot, visually beautiful and emotionally charged movie, but there are a couple of things I don’t like – at the end there were some moments that seemed illogical to me, some symbols that were not clear enough, and they left me confused after the end - the old man was trying to help his apprentice to overcome his anger and sorrow, but put an end to his own life. Out of his pyre a snake came out. What was that all about? And the in final episode, when there comes that woman with a baby – I don’t think it is well told, it leaves the audience to wonder what is happening. Maybe it requires a second watch to get a clearer view, or maybe it has something to do with the Buddhist culture or Korean mythology. Or maybe someone is just trying to be enigmatic to look more profound and philosophic. All in all – it is a very good movie if not excellent, but according to me not that great that everyone is trying to present it. I find phrases like “The most beautiful film I’ve ever seen” and “Left me speechless” generally exaggerated. But it’s definitely very worth watching.
Well, that was all about the 10th Sofia Film Fest from me! See you in the cinema!