‘Spring summer fall winter …and spring’. With one look at the title, I knew that here I had a film-maker who did not give a damn. About a title which seemed plain, and long, and blatantly exposed the gist of the movie. At the same time, for precisely the same reason, I also knew that the film-maker I had, was cunningly confident about his film. There was no stopping now. I was already curious beyond all reasonable levels to find out the content of this movie, flaunting a title with four seasons and three dots (which I know, dear friend who is a stickler for punctuation marks, are collectively called ellipsis).
Somewhere through the middle of the movie, a word popped up in my head. ‘Esoteric’. And since my affair with words has stood the test of time (and space, to account for all dimensions), I trusted my intuition that what I was watching was indeed ‘esoteric’. The exact moment, when ‘esoteric’ visited me was when, in the movie, a young man who had earlier run away from a monastery that floats in the middle of the lake, returns to the shelter of his master, after committing a murder in the ‘secular’ world, and is made to carve out on the wooden floor the Buddhist sutra for controlling one’s mind, that the master kept painting out ahead of him with the tail of a cat that he held lovingly in his arms as the paint-brush, in an enigmatic Korean script written vertically, whilst two policemen investigating the murder, waited willingly for the man to finish his task before arresting him. For the whole time this act went on, shot from a height, my mind was stuck upon this word. I watched open mouthed, as the master proceeded serenely to paint, as the cat purred softly once in a while, as the anger receded from the knife of the young man (the exact same knife he had used to commit the crime), as the vertical Korean began filling up the floor, and as the two policemen passed their time enjoying a day away from the world, on the steps to the monastery,
Once the young man had finished his task and was promptly handed over by the master to the two policemen, and I was out of the trance cast by the scene, I looked up the exact meaning of esoteric. I must admit that I was slightly disappointed by what the dictionary thought. It looked like the core of the meaning of this word, lies in the fact that something described by it is not intended to be known or understood by everyone. In my world, esoteric had nothing to do with anyone else. It sounded independent of people. ‘Esoteric’ was a different kind of ‘mysterious.’ But then, that’s life! Things aren’t really what you thought them to be. But dear ‘esoteric’, inside my head, you shall forever be mapped to the scene in ‘Spring summer fall winter… and spring’, where a murderer carves out the Budhist sutra for controlling one’s mind.
Since this article falls under the category ‘Reviews’, I cannot close without saying the following. This movie has some of the most beautiful visuals and sounds I have come across. (‘Into the wild,’ might be, at a different level, a good competitor.) Watch out for that charged thrill that could surge through you, when you notice the parchments inscribed with the word ‘closed’, turn damp with the tears from the Master’s eyes.
A twenty something feeling her way through life.