Archive for the ‘review’ Category

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring (again)

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Growing up as a Western Buddhist, I have always felt somewhat envious of my friends who enjoyed movies based on Western religions. As a teenager, I witnessed several friends going to watch The Passion of the Christ and coming away with a deeper understanding and appreciation of their religion. I longed for this kind of religious experience but thought that I would only achieve this through reading scriptures and attending ceremonies.

A co-worker let me borrow the film Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring. I was a bit skeptical. Buddhism has been addressed in American cinema. Yet, this is usually from the perspective of Tibetan Buddhism (whose practice seem far from my practice of Theravada Buddhism). I decided to watch the film and was refreshed to find that it focused on the practice of Mahayana Buddhism. Despite this fact, the teaching illustrated by this film can be appreciated by all Buddhists.

The film takes place in spring at a Korean monastery which floats on the water of a serene lake. The monastery is inhabited by an elder monk and his young disciple. As the movie progresses, the seasons change; each season presented a new lesson to be learned.

Some themes of the movie include compassion, karma, lust, anger, and atonement (which is widely-practiced in Mahayana Buddhism). The over-arching theme of the film is impermanence. We see the young disciple grow throughout the film to ultimately, take the place of his teacher. Also, the changing of the season also reflects the idea of impermanence: nothing lasts forever.

Watching this film was both a heart-warming and heart-wrenching experience. The young disciple was especially adorable and the moments he spends with his teacher are truly endearing. Watching the young monk as a boy made it difficult to watch him making foolish mistakes as a young man. What was truly moving about this film was the way I felt a connection to the characters. Moreover, my connection to the characters made me think about my own life. What mistakes have I made? What have I learned? What will next season bring?

The hallmark of a good movie is the way you feel after watching it. Having watched this film, I had many questions and thoughts which not only pertained to Buddhism, but to my life as well. Although I can hardly compare my “religious experience” to my friends, I believe that learning about Buddhism doesn’t have to be solely through scriptures. While Buddhism remains as a minority in film, that doesn’t mean it has been left out altogether.

I attached my favorite part of the movie. Enjoy!


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