Korean director Kim Ki-duk's Buddhism-inspired fable takes place on a placid lake nestled among hills on which floats a small, one-room monastery housing two monks, one old and one young. The action takes place over the course of several years, and is divided into five sections denoted by the seasons of the title. While each section tells a story of its own, the overall plot follows the education of the younger monk, a small boy in the beginning, as he learns lessons over the course of his life from his aging counterpart. Troubled outsiders also visit the monastery seeking guidance, including an ill young woman and a man who murdered his wife. As the title suggests, the film's ultimate theme is cyclical renewal. Just as the seasons pass through phases of birth and death and rebirth, so do the lives of Kim's characters.
by Tom Vick synopsis