A married couple are faced with a difficult decision - to improve the life of their child by moving to another country or to stay in Iran and look after a deteriorating parent who has Alzheimer's disease.
A teacher lives a lonely life, all the while struggling over his son's custody. His life slowly gets better as he finds love and receives good news from his son, but his new luck is about to be brutally shattered by an innocent little lie.
Thomas Bo Larsen,
In the midst of the Korean wilderness, a Buddhist master patiently raises a young boy to grow up in wisdom and compassion, through experience and endless exercises. Once the pupil discovers his sexual lust, he seems lost to contemplative life and follows his first love, but soon fails to adapt to the modern world, gets in jail for a crime of passion and returns to the master in search of spiritual redemption and reconciliation with karma, at a high price of physical catharsis... Written by
My review after seeing it a second time follows this first one (WARNING: SECOND REVIEW HAS SPOILERS)
This beautiful film is one to see more than once -- either in the theater (or in your mind's eye).
I found the discussion group on this film (see the Messag Board for this film title here at IMDb) very helpful in illuminating the symbolism which I partially grasped and in decoding some Buddhist principles.
The setting and the photography that captures it are strikingly beautiful and satisfying. The issues are so universally human that the Buddhist flavor provides an accent and not a barrier.
The story recounts the growth of a child into his adulthood and his eventual reclaiming of his roots and meaning. While the film deals with other Buddhist principles and symbolic elements, a central part of it reminds me of lines from T.S. Eliot's "Four Quartets" which reads (loosely remembered) '...and the aim of all our wandering is to arrive again at the place from which we started and know it for the first time...'
As one sees one cycle end and another begin, it made me wonder about how the old monk first got there and what his life was like.
Symbolic. Complex. Elegantly simple. Beautiful. Evocative. Haunting. Provocative. Gently touching the universal religious and the profound.
(SPOILERS AHEAD) After 2nd time (03Mar2011):
Buddhists are against hurting animals. SO why wouldn't a wise monk intervene when the young boy in his care was tying stones to the animals? --BEFORE they died? And be aware that teenagers have hormones that often steer them? The recurring gratuitous punitiveness and pain bothered me: the monk beating the young man's back, the demand to carve all night 100s of characters into the wooden deck, the self-immolation, the pulling the weight up the mountain, the nude torso in winter, etc. As if enduring pain for pain's sake helps anything but masochism or sadism?
The film's photography did remain beautiful the 2nd time.
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