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Three people live in a remote Buddhist monastery near Mount Chonan: Hyegok, the old master; Yong Nan, a young man who has left his extended family in the city to seek enlightenment - Hyegok calls him Kibong!; and, an orphan lad Haejin, whom Hyegok has brought to the monastery to raise as a monk. The story is mostly Yong Nan's, told in flashbacks: how he came to the monastery, his brief return to the city, his vacillation between the turbulence of the world and his hope to overcome passions and escape the idea of self. We also see Hyegok as a teacher, a protector, and a father figure, and we watch Haejin make his way as a curious and nearly self-sufficient child. Written by
How to express the deep gratefulness I feel for this unknown and yet fantastic director, Bae Yong Kyun ; this movie offers an experience that makes you feel that a director is considering you, the audience, as a very refined person ; unlike most of the movies which put you down, this one shows you the deep impact of one's life. This is one of the only movies settled in a Buddhist context which doesn't show any spirituality or doesn"t give any message ; but is a pure and direct experience of sanity through this misused medium which is cinema. I put him on the same level as Ozu and Bresson, which is nowadays not happening anymore... Everything is like a product like "Samsara" which gives you a spiritual message, but has any cinematographic interest except being a post card for visiting Himalayas. So when someone like Bae Yong Kyun, who respects his audience enough not to show something (but gives to watch), doesn't use music to pull emotions out of you, doesn't deliver any message, doesn't try to charm your eyes with beautiful landscapes, this deserves to be acclaimed. He shows us that cinema can be an art as valuable as the others, the source of beauty that poetry has always captured in life for the readers. Thank you mister Bae Yong Kyun.
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