1. Two doors open—to show a small lake and a temple, attached to a raft, floating in the center of the lake. In the temple, koi swim in a tiny dish under a small Buddha statue. A monk prays in front of the statue. In the background, a small boy is sleeping. There is a doorway to the “space” of his sleeping area, but there are no walls in that space. The monk wakes up the boy and goes out to the raft. The boy gets up, exits through the door, and prays in front of the statue.
2. The monk does chores, and then he gathers up some equipment in a bag over his shoulder and sets out across the lagoon in his rowboat. He is set to pick herbs for medicine. The little boy joins him. They reach the two wooden doors with a shelter above the doors. Again, this is the “entrance” to the lagoon, but there are no walls on either side of the doors. The boy runs off to play. The boy spots a snake, and he pushes it aside. Then the boy climbs atop a huge Buddha statue overlooking the temple and lagoon. The master returns to the boat, and the boy catches up with him. They return to the temple. A small dog plays on the raft. The master shows the boys some herbs—and he warns him against picking one type of plant that can easily kill a person if eaten. Later, the boy plays on the raft and then takes the boat for a spin.
3. The next day the boy is out and about by himself again. He has taken the boat to shore, and he runs about and throws stones and has a good time. Then he wades into a pool and grabs a small fish. Suddenly, we see the old man sneaking up behind him and watching him. (How did the old man get across the lagoon?) The boy ties a string around the fish and ties the string to a rock—and then puts the fish back in the water. The fish struggles to swim under the weight of the rock. The master follows the boy and now the boy has grabbed a large frog. He ties string around the frog and then ties t he string to a rock and watches it try to move under the weight of the rock. The boy gleefully does these actions—he gets a big kick out of this pastime. Then he grabs a snake and does the same thing with the snake. He giggles with delight as he watches the snake struggle. The old man watches from a distance. Later, the boy is swimming in a pool of water, and the master rummages about to find a large stone.
Stone in the Heart-1
4. That evening on the temple, the boy is asleep in his “room.” The master sneaks in and ties the stone (itself wrapped in heavy twine) around the boy’s body so that now he carries a stone on his back. The next morning the master is cleaning the small Buddha statue, and the boy gets up behind him. He sits at his master’s feet. “There is a stone on my back. Please take it off.” “Does it torment you?” the master asks. Then he reminds him of what he did to the three animals, the fish, the frog, and the snake. The boy admits he tied stones to them. When the boy complains about the weight of the stone, the old man says, “How do you think the fish, the frog, and the snake endured it?” The boy admits he was wrong to do that to the animals. “Go and find all the animals and release them from the stones; then I will release you too. But if any of the animals is dead, you will carry the stone in your heart for the rest of your life.
5. So the boy takes the boat across the lagoon and begins to search for his animals. He finds the fish—but it’s dead in the small pool. So he buries it. The old man watches from a discreet distance. (Now how did that old man get across the lagoon?) Then the boy finds the frog and releases it. He finds the snake, too, but it’s also dead. The boy holds the dead snake in his hand and sobs and sobs, while the master watches.
6. Now the child is a young man. He rows across the lagoon and goes for a walk in the woods. He spies two snakes mating. He is mesmerized by their writhing beauty. He stands atop the huge Buddha statue and spies two strangers walking down the road in the distance. He goes down the hill and meets them on the road. They are a woman and her daughter—about the same age as the young man. He helps both into the rowboat—and when he steadies the young girl, and the two make eye contact, the young man seems nervous and awkward. He paddles under a huge tree in the water, stops, and tells the young woman, “You will become as healthy as this tree.” They arrive at the temple. A chicken pecks on the wooden planks. The master welcomes them, and soon the three are praying at the altar. The young man watches from just outside the doorway. The mother engages earnestly in the prayers, but the young woman seems weak and heavy-hearted.
7. That evening, the master and the young man lie in the same sleeping area. The mother continues to pray. The daughter lies asleep on the floor. The young man watches her. The next day the mother and the master talk. She asks him if her daughter will be all right. “I believe that her soul is suffering,” he says. “When she finds peace in her soul, her body will return to health.” Then the young man takes the mother away in the rowboat while the daughter watches from the raft.
8. Later, the young woman sits on the edge of the raft in the rain when suddenly the young man holds a wicker basket over her head—like an umbrella. She smiles at him. Later, the young woman undresses inside the temple. Suddenly the young man opens the door and sees her partially clad body. He closes the door as she draws back. Then there is a third encounter on the raft. She is sitting on one of the stone lions, and the young man tells her the master will be unhappy if he sees her sitting there. She gets up. She goes inside, kneels, and prays at the Buddha statue. Later, she falls asleep. Eventually, the young man finds her lying there, and he places a blanket over her. Then he kneels at her side. Suddenly he slips his hand under the blanket and begins to touch her body. She slaps him. Now he begins to pray very hard. But she reaches out a hand and touches him gently on the shoulder as if to give him solace Suddenly the door opens—it’s the master—and she removes her hand.
9. The young man is rowing the boat on the lagoon, and he sees the young woman standing on the raft. He asks her if she would like to join him. She steps into the boat. She wears the same simple white dress. The young man wears the same gray shirt and trousers. At the doors of the dock they disembark, and he follows her as she walks inland. At one point he sneaks up behind her while she is looking at fish in the water of a pool, and he slips on the rock and falls headfirst into the water—almost landing on top of her. Then he dives under water like a flash and comes up with a small fish in his hand—and makes her a present of the fish. It flops out of her hand and back into the water. Then he steps toward her and reaches out and touches her face, then lets his hand slide down to her breast. She pushes him back and he falls into the water again.
10. A night scene inside the temple. Everyone is asleep. We see the young woman in the sleeping area on the right, and the two men in the sleeping area on the left. But the young man is not asleep. He rises up and looks across at the woman. She is not asleep either. She looks back, and then she pulls the cover over her.
11. The young man fetches some herbs from the mainland. He prepares the herb on the raft and eventually strains out the liquid into a bowl and hands it to her. He tells her it will make her feel better. The master watches their interaction.
12. The young man in the rowboat. He is turning in tight circles, a testament to the strength of his right arm. The young woman sits on the raft and watches him. Is he showing off? Then he stands up and dives into the water. The young woman stands up and goes to the edge of the raft. She seems worried. Is he okay? Suddenly he pops to the surface, right at her feet, and pulls her over and into the water. He helps her into the boat, her white dress soaking wet, and he pulls the oars hard to move the boat the land. He seems eager and filled with purpose. They exit through the double doors and leave the boat behind. Close-up of their pairs of legs intertwined. Then a wide shot of the two, naked and having sex on the rocks near a pool of water. Cut to a high angle as they grip each other tightly. Eventually we return to a version of the first shot—their pairs of legs intertwined, and camera up to show them lying under his shirt, her head on his shoulder. They watch the clouds above them. On the way back he carries her on his back.
13. Insert close-up of the master’s brush as he writes Korean characters on a roof tile. As soon as he finishes one tile, the ink mysteriously dissolves. The young couple arrives via the rowboat. That night, everyone is in bed. But the young man can’t sleep. He tries to open the door of the “sleeping area” and exit, but then he changes his mind and simply crawls over the master. This is the first time he has not used the “door” to the bedroom. As he crawls across the floor, she watches him and smiles. As he approaches (not through her door—but through the open wall) she pulls her cover back to enfold him as he crawls into bed with her. They wriggle together under the bed covers.
14. The next day the young man allows her to sit on the stone lion (I thought that was a no-no). Later, he teases her by placing an insect on her dress. She screams and runs away and he chases her around the raft. The old man smiles at this behavior.
15. Later, the young couple is alone, and as they sit together, they place two small fish in the water in the bottom of her shoes. She tells him she has “completely recovered.” He says, “When I can’t see you, I go insane. What is wrong with me?” She does not answer. Then we have another nighttime scene. The young man raises up to sneak a peek at her. She sees him, and she gets up and exits—again, not out the “door.” He exits also—not out the “door.” They take the rowboat away to the old tree near the gate. They have intercourse on the boat. Meanwhile, the master sleeps.
16. The next morning the master gets up and goes outside. He spots the boat floating nearby. Inside is the young couple, still asleep after a night of sex. He throws the rooster into the boat, and since he has tied the rooster to a rope, he is able to pull the rooster-p-and the rowboat—back to the raft. Then he gets inside the boat and opens the plug in the bottom—so that the boat will fill with water and sink gradually. He lets the boat float away. Of course, the young man wakes up before the boat sinks.
17. Back at the temple now, the young man asks his master for forgiveness. The old man asks the girl, “Are you still sick?” She says no. “Then it was the right medicine.” He tells her she can leave now. The young man is upset. “No, Master! She can’t!” The master says, “Lust awakens the desire to possess. And that awakens the intent to murder. The old man sits alone in the boat and tells the young woman to get in. She stands on the raft, looks back toward the temple (the young man must be inside), and then gets into the boat. Now she is wearing a blue top and blue jeans. Inside the temple, the young man sits in front of the altar and cries. Suddenly he jumps up and runs outside to the edge of the raft and watches them move away. At the dock, the old man stands in the boat while she exits the double doors and departs on the mainland.
18. The two men in bed at night. The young man gets up, steals the small Buddha statue, bows to the altar, and leaves. The old man opens his eyes but does not get up. The young man takes the chicken with him, too. Then he rows away. The old man sits and prays at the altar. The young man exits the double doors, lets the chicken go in the forest, and
19. The master rows his boat from the double doors at the shore across the lagoon to the temple. He carries a backpack, and inside the backpack is a white cat. At the temple he lets the cat go so that it can explore its new home, and he unfolds a newspaper and begins to eat some food. Suddenly he notices a news story: “Man, 30, flees after murdering his wife.” The old man reads the story—and he realizes the husband was the young man he raised at the temple. The master suddenly brings out some gray clothes and begins to cut and sew the clothing. Meanwhile, the white cat explores the temple. Later, the old man prays in the temple.
20. Now a 30-year-old man walks on the edge of the lagoon and opens t he double doors at the dock. He stares at the temple—the master, sitting on the raft, stares back at him. The master rows the boat out to the dock—and his former student stands anxiously awaiting him. “You have grown a lot,” the master says. Then he rows both back to the temple. The cat sits on top of one of the lanterns. The young man walks over to the edge of the raft and sits down.
21. Meanwhile, the white cat explores the koi pond—interested in the fish. Then an insert close-up of the young man’s backpack. Inside is the small statue of the Buddha. Wide shot shows him inside the temple. The master sits next to him. The young man places the statue back on t he altar of the temple. Then he takes a knife out of his case and goes outside the other entrance to the temple and slams the knife into the wooden deck repeatedly—almost as if reenacting the murder of his wife. The knife still has her blood on it.
22. Night scene. The old man sleeps peacefully, while the young man cowers under his blanket and stares at the old man from the other “bedroom.” The next day the young man gets in the rowboat and whips across the lagoon with frenzied strokes of the oars, and then we see him on land in a large pool—the location he and the woman had sex at years ago—and he thrashes about on the water—as if insane. Then we see the old man watching him from a distance. (How did that old man get across the lagoon?)
23. The young man sits in the temple in front of the altar. He is not praying. Then we see someone writing pictograms on a white sheet of paper. Outside the temple, the old man sits and scratches the cat. Inside, the young man has placed the printed paper over his eyes, nose, and mouth. The words on the paper read, “Shut.” Then he struggles to breathe. He seems to be choking. The old man notices the commotion, opens the temple door, and looks inside. He springs to action, grabs a long rod, and enters the temple. Then he begins to beat the young man, smacking him 12 times with the stiff rod, and yelling, “Young fool!” The young man topples over as the beating continues.
24. High angle of the rafters of the temple. Chords are wound around the beam and the columns. Camera down to show the young man, bound from the arms to the legs, swaying above the temple floor. We can see red marks on his back where the old man beat him with the rod. Insert close-up of a white candle burning—set to slowly burn through the main chord that holds up the chords that bind the young man. We see the master standing outside the temple—and then we see an insert close-up of the cat’s white tail being dipped into an ink well. The old man is using the tail as his brush—and he is writing Korean characters on the deck of the temple raft. The cat meows in protest, but the old man continues his work. Meanwhile, inside the temple the young man is conscious now, and yet he cannot free himself from his bindings. Suddenly the candle does its work and burns through the chord—and the young man falls onto a mat below him. He is unhurt. The old man continues his writing task on the raft. Inside the temple, the young man takes the knife he used to murder his wife and cuts off most of his hair. Suddenly he opens the temple door and stands there dressed in the gray cotton shirt he wore when he lived in the temple more than a decade earlier. He watches the old man work at his task. Then the master says, “Though you can so easily kill, you yourself cannot be easily killed. Carve out all of these characters with the knife. And while you cut out each one, drive out the anger from your heart.” The young men set to work at his task, while the master continues writing letters on the other side of the raft.
25. Two men enter the double door at the dock of the lagoon.” Holy one!” one of them yells. Cut to the reaction shot of the young man on the raft. He is terrified. He knows they are the police—come to take him away. He watches as the old man goes to the rowboat. We see him row across to the dock. The police detective says, “We’ve come to investigate something.” The young man watches nervously as the boat draws near. The detectives jump out and draw their guns. The young man holds his knife up to defend himself. “Drop the knife or we’ll shoot!” the detective says. The master, standing behind the detectives, says, “What are you doing? Continue cutting!” The young man kneels down again and returns to the carving out of the letters. The master explains, “Prajnaparamita Sutra. It helps restore inner peace. Please let him finish.” He tells him the young man will complete the task by tomorrow morning.
26. Time passes. The detectives are bored. So they begin to take target practice with their guns on a can of soda they threw into the water. But try as they might, they can’t hit the can with any of their bullets. The shooting distracts the young man. The master tells him to keep at his task. Then he reaches for a small stone and flips it past the two detectives—and the stone hits the can on his first try. The detectives turn around and look at the old man. That stops the shooting. Later, the detectives sit on the steps of the temple and watch the two others at work. Now the old man is nearly finished printing characters, and the young man has carved out about 1/3 of the total.
27. Night falls, and the young man continues carving out the characters. One of the detectives even holds up a candle for him to see his workspace. Later, the young man finally collapses—after completing his task.
28. Dawn comes, and one of the detectives wakes up to see his “prisoner” passed out in front of him. He takes off his own jacket, lays it over the young man, and takes his knife. Later, the master comes outside the temple to see the young man still lying there. He looks to the side and sees all of the characters carved out behind the young man. The master begins to sweep up the shavings. Then the master sets to work to create different-colored paints to fill in the carved characters. The detectives watch him. And when the old man begins to fill in the characters with a blue paint, the two detectives fill in characters with different-colored paints. Later, when the painting is done, the young man still sleeps on the raft. The master stands over him in the sunlight and tells him to get up. “It’s time to go.” The young man sits up and looks back at the completed task. He seems in awe that it was completed.
29. The young man sits at the doorway of the temple, and from his point of view we see the move in the wind on its moorings—as the young man takes in the passing scene. Then the young man bows to the old man and gets into the boat. Note that the white cat is going along with the men. But 40 feet from the temple the boat seems to be anchored to the spot—despite the oaring of one of the detectives. Suddenly the young man turns around to look at the master. The old man waves to him—and suddenly the boat begins to move again. The young man keeps staring for a moment—as if realizing that it was the master who stopped the boat. At the dock, the three men leave through the double doors. The camera returns to the master standing on the dock. Suddenly t he double doors close—as if by a hidden force, and then we see the rowboat returning to the temple—again by a hidden force—in this case, the master himself. The white cat is left behind on t he mainland to fend for himself. Then the old man sits on the temple steps, watches the sun go down, and then writes several characters on thin white paper. Then he prepares firewood in the center of the rowboat, arranges his clothes just so at the altar in the temple, and then sits atop the funeral pyre in the rowboat and places t he white papers over his eyes, nose, and mouth. The writing reads, “Shut.” A candle placed in t he bottom of the stack of wood slowly burns first one kindling and then another until the stack of wood ignites and thus becomes the funeral pyre for the holy man sitting atop the wood.
30. Scenes of the temple in winter. Suddenly, a man dressed in a heavy coat and wearing a wool cap enters the double doors, bows reverently, and walks across the icy lagoon. He is our young man we saw as a baby, as an adolescent, and as a young man. Now he must be in his 40s or 50s. He approaches the temple and then sees the half-submerged rowboat. He bows before it. He knows that the former monk committed suicide there. He enters the temple, and sees the monk’s clothes still laid out before an altar. A small snake, which has taken up residence, slithers away. The man sees the water is frozen under the small Buddha statue. The koi in the water is frozen, too. He lights a candle. Then he chips out the ice above the rowboat, and he removes the chards of the old man’s bones and places them in a red rag. He returns to the land and finds a frozen waterfall. From that block of ice he carves a larger Buddha statue in the ice, and back at the temple he places the relics of his former master (in the red cloth) inside the third-eye of the Buddha. Then he replaces the statue at the foot of the waterfall. He cuts a hole for fresh water in the ice, and inside the temple he begins to pray. The snake keeps its distance inside the temple.
31. Another day. He finds a manual showing yoga positions, and he begins to practice yoga day after day. He becomes remarkably proficient at striking the various positions.
Stone in the Heart-2
32. A woman enters the icy lagoon through the double doors. She wears a scarf over her face. She holds a crying baby in her hands. The baby settles down after she brings it inside the temple. The baby strains to see his mother’s face, but she keeps it covered. At night, she prays before the altar. The man stays inside his “sleeping area,” and once he opens the door when he hears her crying. But he closes the door out of respect for her privacy. Later, he opens the door again when it is quiet. She is lying in front of the altar, her arm over her baby. Both seem to be asleep. He kneels next to her, and he is drawn to remove the scarf from over her face. But just as he moves toward her scarf, she reaches her hand out and touches his foot. He stops. Later that night, she removes her scarf, and her baby looks up at her and sees her face. But then she puts the scarf over her face again. She opens the door to the man’s sleeping quarters, and she sees he is asleep. She walks across the ice, but distracted, she does not see the water hole, and she falls through it and under the ice. One of her sandals pops to the surface of the water. At the same time, the relics from the red handkerchief flow into the icy water because the ice statue of the Buddha has begun to melt.
33. The next morning the little boy she brought with her crawls out of the temple and across the ice. But the man gets up in time to see that he is missing—and he runs outside and stops him from any danger. At that point the man sees the slipper floating in the icy water hole. He sees the blue scarf she had been wearing a few feet away under the ice. The woman drowned. He fishes the body out of the hole and lays it gently on the surface of the ice. He removes the blue scarf from her face. In an extreme long shot we see him react to the face. He must know this woman. She must be the woman he once loved.
34. Cut to an image of the small Buddha, resting in the icy water hole, the blue scarf draped around it as if creating a shrine. Then the man goes into the temple and removes a statue of a Bodhisattva, Kuan Yin, an image of the Buddha-to-be, the Buddha that remains on earth as a means of helping other believers lead a better life so that they may attain Nirvana –and only when the others have attained Nirvana does the Bodhisattva leave the world for Nirvana as well. The man takes a huge tire-shaped stone, wraps a chord around it, and then wraps the chord around his waist.
35. He walks away from the temple, his shirt off, and carries the statue with him while dragging the stone behind him. He walks across the icy lagoon, then through the double doors, and then up the hillside past the lagoon, and over the ice of the pond, where once he made love with the young woman. As he carries on, the director cuts three shots into the track—one a shot of a small fish trying to free itself from a rock a boy has attached to it, one a frog trying to free itself, and one a snake trying to free itself. Obviously, these are references to what the man did to these animals when he was a boy. Beyond the hills he climbs the rocks of the side of the mountain, until finally we see him at the heights, as he places the statue on t he millstone he dragged behind him. The millstone becomes a base for the statue. The camera pans left and we can see the lagoon in the vast distance, a tiny dot in a tiny lagoon in the center of the frame. Close shot of the man praying as he sits behind the statue.
. . . and Spring
36. The double doors open again, and this time the guardian spirits are freshly painted on each door. Close shot of the raft and temple. Most of the decorations are newly painted. A boy kneels across from the monk—our main character. The monk draws the boy’s portrait. The boy plays with a turtle—the fifth animal to take up occupancy on the temple. He turns the turtle over on the raft and chuckles. The boy takes the new rowboat out for a spin on the lagoon. Cut to a point of view shot, from the point of view of the statue of the Bodhisattva, overlooking the lagoon. Fade to black.
Film resource written by Robert E. Yahnke
Copyright, Robert E. Yahnke, © 2009
Professor, Univ. of Minnesota
Request permission from the author to reprint this resource--for educational use only