A landscape of stunning beauty, quiet and serenity.
A beautiful lake with a floating temple in the middle and surrounded by mountains.
A monk teaching a child to become a monk.
.Is this really a film by Kim Ki-Duk?
Oh, yes. However, it is in a quite different vein, than we are used to from him.
A Buddhist monk is living on a raft (with a small, simplistic but beautiful temple) in the middle of a lake surrounded by tall mountains. He has a young boy as a disciple, and is teaching him lifes lessons. The boy grows up to become a young man, when a young girl is brought to the temple by her mother to recuperate from an illness. They fall in love (or lust) and the young man leaves the temple to live with the girl. Later he comes back to the temple to atone for his sins (you will learn, what those sins are). The old monk helps him clear his heart, and when the old monk is dead, the now adult young monk (this stage played by Kim Ki-Duk himself) accepts a young child as his disciple. The circle is closed.
This film is a meditation on the cycle of life. On how we change with the seasons and how the next generation repeats our mistakes even though we try to teach them not to. There is a lot of Buddhism mysticism in this film. But dont let that fool you. Im not a Buddhist (Kim Ki-Duk himself is a devout Catholic), and still this film brought me a great deal of the inner peace, that it tries to show.
I feel like Ive been living my life in a rush, so I wanted to slow down a little and make a movie like this, Kim said after a press screening. Dialogue is kept to a minimum and actions are simple, but the stunning landscape and photography emphases the films humor and heart key ingredients, which it has in abundance.
The temple (a 30 ton set) floats on the water of the lake only accessible by a small rowboat. Inside the temple (and on the lake) there are doors standing alone with no walls around them, but unless you are on illicit business, you open the doors anyway and pass through them instead of just going around them. A nice little touch, that may be full of Buddhist symbolism, but still works for a non-Buddhist.
The film has been picked up by Sony Pictures and has been chosen as Koreas entry for the Oscars in the foreign-language category.
The world (bringing with it lifes pleasures and sufferings) intrude, but the Buddhist principles of kindness toward all forms of life and the goal of inner peace is, what you remember from this fine film.