Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East?

달마가 동쪽으로 간 까닭은?

Bodhi Dharma Website
Film info

Director: Bae Yong-kyoon
Cast: Lee Pan-Yong, Sin Won-sop, Hwang Hae-jin, Go Su-Myeong
Film genre: Drama
Cert U, 175 mins, 1989
Distributed by Bae Yong-kyoon

A boy Hae-jin, young monk Ki-bong and very old monk Hye-gok inhabit a small, dilapidated hermitage up in the mountains. Below lies a main temple, below that a town with all its worldly woes and pleasures. The hermitage and its slow rhythm of life seems almost as much a part of nature as of religion. Yet when the old monk dies, even this timeless realm will change.

Bae Yong-kyoon devoted years to the making of this remarkable film. He produced, directed, lighted, photographed and edited it: he, did at least, have some help with the haunting soundtrack. The sheer visual beauty and mystery of the mountain setting, creatures – a jay, a young cow – who seem to attend the little boy, water rushing over uncannily smooth river rocks: all this suggests a kind of animated mandara meant to take us into deeper contact with life and death, being and non-being