2004 Top 10 - #2

December 29, 2004
A thought by James Berardinelli

#2: Spring Summer Fall Winter...and Spring : Sublime, stunning, and emotionally powerful, Spring Summer Fall Winter...and Spring spent a number of months at the top of my "favorites" list for 2004 (until it was supplanted by my end-of-the-year #1). As long-time readers are aware, I tend to prize plot and characterization over visual splendor, but this is a rare occasion when both the story-related aspects and the appearance of the film are perfectly wedded. Spring... offers both visual and thematic poetry. The film follows the progress through life of a man who begins life as the youthful apprentice to an aging teacher. In the first chapter, he learns the value of all life. In the second, he discovers lust and love. In the third, jealousy and guilt. And, in the fourth, things have come full circle and the man who was once the student is now the teacher. By seeing an entire life unfold in less than two hours, we gain a greater appreciation for the changeableness of human nature, and how things we might once have thought to be unthinkable turn out to be true. The journey is sometimes sad, sometimes funny, often touching, and always magical. Kim Ki-duk's feature is currently available on DVD, and even the subtitle-phobic might consider giving it an opportunity. Although the movie is in Korean, there aren't many words, so the need to read should not often interfere.