Sunday, 4 January 2015

Rowing on Film (2)

Kim Ki-Duk's film Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter...and Spring is one of the very few movies where a rowing boat provides one of the symbolic threads that runs through the plot. 
A Buddhist monk and a boy novice live on a monastery that floats on a lake deep in the forest in Korea. The monastery is tiny, just a raft with a small temple. They use a little punt to ferry visitors from a gated jetty on the shore and to visit the banks of the lake to forage for food.
The boat is the instrument of temptation in the form of a girl brought to the monk to be cured, fate in the form of detectives seeking the novice and finally death as the old monk transforms it into his own funeral pyre.
The movie is full of Buddhist symbolism that I had to look up afterwards (thank you, Wikipedia!) but the role of the boat is not specifically Buddhist (at least, it isn't mentioned in the Wikipedia article). But it is the boat that transports each protagonist from one stage of their lives to another.
It is a great work of art, moving, illuminating and stunningly beautiful.
Warning: some sex (a long way away but leaving nothing to the imagination) and some animal cruelty. 

1 comment:

Rob said...

The boat, navigator, and boat-pilot imagery show up in a very popular 8th Century Buddhist Sanskrit poem by Shantideva, called "The Bodhisattva's Way of Life."