Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter... and Spring (2003)

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Released 2-Feb-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 98:30 (Case: 103)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Ki-duk Kim
Studio
Distributor
Bavaria Film Int
Warner Home Video
Starring Yeong-su Oh
Ki-duk Kim
Young-min Kim
Jae-kyeong Seo
Yeo-jin Ha
Jong-ho Kim
Jung-young Kim
Dae-han Ji
Min Choi
Ji-a Park
Min-Young Song
Case ?
RPI $24.95 Music Ji-woong Park


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Korean Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

The doors open...

    Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter...and Spring is an immensely beautiful film. Director Kim Ki-duk and Cinematographer Dong-hyeon Baek have not wasted a single frame on the mundane.

   Although the story is based heavily on Buddhist teachings, an audience that is unfamiliar with Buddhism will have no trouble following the plot, due to the universal nature of its content.

   Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter...and Spring is very light on dialogue, using instead its images to convey the almost surreal story. A story which is told in five seasons, starting with spring and concluding in spring to complete the cycle. Each season represents a significant stage in the life of the young boy in the film.

   A Buddhist monk (Young-soo Oh) lives on a very small monastery that floats in the middle of a peaceful and secluded lake. The monk is guardian and master of a young boy (Jae-kyeong-Seo), and is teaching him life lessons through his Buddhist principles.

   When the monk catches the boy engaging in cruelty to small animals, the boy is taught a lesson that will haunt him through his life, albeit in a symbolic way.

   The film moves forward many years to the season of summer. The boy is now a teenager (Young-min Kim), and is developing natural sexual urges. A mother brings her sick teenage daughter to the monk for healing. During her short stay on the lake, the boy will discover sexual attraction and lust, then the pain of separation for the first time. The boy leaves the monastery early one morning, foregoing the monk's teachings to pursue his love of the girl.

   Moving forward again many years, in the season of autumn, the now adult boy has made a life-altering mistake and returns to the monk for security and guidance. He is apprehended by police on the lake, but not before taking his final lesson from his master.

   More years forward, the season is winter. The lake has frozen over, creating some magnificent vistas. The adult boy (played by the film's director, Kim Ki-duk), returns again, his life almost coming full circle. The anger and violence that once threatened to overwhelm him now gives way to peace and redemption.

   I have been careful in this synopsis not to reveal too much detail in the plot. Many wonderful moments and indeed surprises await you with this film.

   Each season brings its own unique beauty to the screen, with autumn and winter being particularly stunning.

   Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter...and Spring is a symbolic, elegantly beautiful and haunting film that will stay in your thoughts long after the credits have rolled.

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Transfer Quality

Video

   The video transfer of this film is quite superb.

   The film is presented on this DVD in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. This is the correct aspect ratio.

   The transfer is beautifully sharp and clear. I noticed one short scene early in the film that contained a little grain, but this wasn't enough to sour the quality overall. In fact, the image was so clear at times certain scenes had an almost high definition look to them. Blacks were very true and showed no signs of low level noise. Shadows were also exceptional, holding outstanding detail.

    Colours were very natural and soft. There is no vibrant use of colour in the film, so oversaturation was not an issue. Colours have been beautifully rendered throughout the film.

   There were no MPEG artefacts. I found very few problems with film-to-video artefacts. Aliasing was not a problem. Edge enhancement was evident occasionally on a very minor scale. It proved quite difficult to find. In fact, I only noticed it because I was looking for it. There were no problems at all with film artefacts.

   The only subtitles available on this disc are English. They are in white, and were always easily legible.

   This is a single sided, single layer disc, so there is no layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio transfer, unfortunately, doesn't quite match the video transfer.

    There is one audio track on this DVD, Korean Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s). This track is not surround-encoded, but is of excellent quality in terms of clarity.

    Dialogue quality appears to be excellent, although I have no comprehension of the Korean language. The main problem with the audio transfer, and indeed the DVD in general, is audio sync. This is a constant problem throughout the film to varying degrees. I actually confirmed this problem by checking the sync using another player and display. I got exactly the same result on both systems. The problem is probably less noticeable to a person who doesn't speak Korean, but it's very noticeable, for instance, when objects are struck together. Examples of this are at 35:00, 56:30 and 69:30.

    The music was composed by Ji-woong Park. I found the music to be very calming and haunting. Of course, the music is also distinctly Asian. Voice is used with the music to create the perfect highlight for the scene, while avoiding overpowering it.

    The surrounds and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

   Unfortunately, the DVD is very light on extras.

   The menu is animated with images from the film, and has looped music. The menu is also 16x9 enhanced and features Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Theatrical Trailer (1:58)

    Excellent quality trailer of the film, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The film may have very little dialogue, but the trailer has none.

Image Gallery

   This is basically a slide show of five images from the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   The R1 version of Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter... and Spring has only a couple of differences to the R4.

   The R1 version differs from the R4 version in that it features a Korean Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track and has French subtitles as well as English, although the R1 version is missing the trailer and image gallery.

   The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track might be a nice touch, but I imagine it would be filled with mainly ambient sounds and music. The  Korean Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track on the R4 is of excellent quality and very much suits the film. I believe the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track may be wasted due to the large number of quiet moments in the film.

   If the French subtitles aren't an issue, I would sacrifice the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix for the Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, coupled with the superior PAL transfer on the R4 version.

Summary

    Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter... and Spring is an elegant and peaceful film that will stay in your thoughts for some time. It's an excellent film to watch after a stressful day. The scenery alone should help soothe away any tension.

   The lack of extras is a big disappointment.

   The video and audio transfers are outstanding, even despite the audio sync problems.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDJVC XV-N412, using Component output
DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

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Comments (Add)
Is this version cut? - graeme REPLY POSTED
Cuts on the Tartan UK DVD... - REPLY POSTED
Re: Region 2 cuts - REPLY POSTED