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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
In South Korea, in the heart of mountains covered with lush forests, three human beings meet: an old master of Zen Buddhism, a young monk still unsure of himself and an orphan. Around them, domineering nature and its elements: water, fire, earth, wind and light. This simple framework is enough for Bae Yong-kyun to make life feel like an inner and collective adventure. However, these three characters could also represent the three ages and phases of the life of a single human being, in his search for the essence of the self, perfect harmony and inner freedom. "Why do we need a lifetime to solve the problem of life in the world?" To answer this question, Korean Bae Yong-kyun immerses himself in his own culture, creating a universally valid parable. Radically marginal, he worked and reworked his work for eight years, assuming himself scenario, dialogues, production, sets, light, shooting, sound and editing. True Hercules and Prometheus of the film, he opposes the international cinema which, by his thirst for action, makes blind and jaded, touches of hauntingly serene phrases and images with a magical rhythm. They sharpen the mind, allow for breathtaking discoveries, raise the ear to an almost unknown philosophy and culture. See more »
Haejin! Haejin! There is no beginning and no end. Nothing is immutable, everything changes. That thing which does not come into being does not die.
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The first time I rented this movie, I saw it with a friend. We quit halfway through after groaning with boredom, then spent the rest of the evening making fun of it. A year later I tried it again, and have seen it five times since. It is extraordinary and is more gripping and absorbing each time I watch it.
There is of course no plot, only a loose story which illustrates, both in its whole and many fragmentary parts, core questions and ideas of Buddhism regarding the impermanence of all things and the corrupting nature of human desire. I know only a little about Buddhism, but what little I had read since the first unsuccessful viewing was probably what helped me see it subsequent times. Like Buddhism, it employs profound calm to upset some fundamental attitudes about the world and makes these disturbances fascinating: suffering, loss, the desire to hold on to things, and the vanity of intellectual growth.
This is however not by any stretch an "ideas" movie. It was made by a painter and remains very much a kind of tone-poem for the screen. I recommend it highly.
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