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This movie is absolutely great. Greatly filmed, greatly directed,
greatly acted. But thats nothing to what hides behind all the image,
where this movie becomes a masterpiece. Its about a life of a man, who
made a sin, and all his life have been asking god to forgive him for
his sin. In his praying he have got a power to help other people to get
rid of their sins. And thats about the power of religion and faith.
Can't say anything more without spoiling the plot. This movie may seem
to be just about monks and church, but its much wider. Its about pure
I believe that "Ostrov" (the Island) is among the great pieces of world and Russian cinema somewhere close to Bergman and Tarkovsky. For Russia - it is an important and timely message. For those who want to know more of "the mysterious Russian soul" - it is an excellent description. I've hardly seen a better one. For all taking the spiritual development seriously - the film will also be useful no matter what is their religion. People say that they are becoming better and cleaner after watching the film. Those who used to a lot of action on the screen would require to concentrate. It is more a meditation rather than a blockbuster. Strongly recommend to watch.
I was almost reluctant to watching this movie because of all the hype it receives in Russia currently. At first, I thought it was one of those "we are the best", the usual Russian things. Not so. It is still the #1 feature in Russian movie theaters at the time of this writing. Anyway, Russians don't wait as long as Americans do before they release a movie to the television. And so today they did (the movie is still in the theaters and is doing really good at the box office). Don't know how exactly it works in Russia. But anyway, the movie is SO GOOD! It is definitely up there with Bergman and Tarkovsky. It is simply spectacular! Don't even think of missing it! Everything is great about this movie. The story is really short to get you into the mood in the orgasmic kind of way, and it will keep you at the edge of your sit to the very last second. Beautiful actors. The film is shot in beautiful widescreen an absolutely breathtaking cinematography. The only thing bad about this movie is that it is too short!!!! Don't get me wrong, it is a full-length film, but it's ended just a couple of hours earlier than I expected :) Just watch it! You will not regret it.
If you love Lars Von Trier's series about Human Virtue and Sin, you
will definitely fell the same way about with this brilliant movie and
the main character- once sinned soul turned life-long searching
forgiveness wonder-working monk, played by unique and genius Russian
actor/musician/now-hermit- Petr Mamonov. The movie actually reflects
the real current life and spirituality of the actor.
The movie won't leave you indifferent and senseless even if you try. To preserve beauty and richness of Russian language may be an arduous task for an interpreter, but you shouldn't worry about it very much since dialogs are rare, short and sharp, and the movie is very rich visually.
Some people saw this film as a religious propaganda. I don't think it
is so - "Ostrov" it's rather a testimony, for those interested, about
the Russian soul, which is deeply religious and rooted in Orthodox
Christianity. I think the main target of the movie were the Russian
themselves, or maybe, by extension, those nations who are traditionally
Orthodox Christian, but forgot their roots.
The movie tries to bring into attention the essence of Orthodox Christian belief - the reunification of man with God, which is done through repentance and unceased prayer, in humbleness and ascetic struggle. According to the same beliefs, God is the one who works this union in co-operation with the man.
The main character, Fr. Anatoli, was inspired from the lives of some Russian "fools for Christ" - men who tried to hide their sanctity and keep their humbleness behind a mask of apparent insanity - especially from the life of St. Theophile the Fool for Christ.
I think the success gained by this movie in Russia and beyond is determined by the inner identification of the viewer with the concepts revealed in it.
Nevertheless, beside it's religious significance, "Ostrov" has a brilliant image directing, with superb shots of the remote locations, and a very good and balanced script - even a surprising final turnaround, for those who may have felt the need for it. You may think of it, in a way, as a sort of "fictional documentary".
As a final note, I think the movie requires at least a second viewing, both for deepening and re-enjoying it.
Ostrov gives the viewer a rare and deeper than ever before glimpse at a
"starets" (elder) and "iurodivy" (fool for Christ), embodied by the
main character Fr. Anatoli. These spiritual figures - unique to Eastern
Orthodox Christianity - possess a prophetic spiritual insight, and in
the case of the iurodivy use odd behavior and humor to spiritually
awaken those around them. The film is set in an isolated skete during
Soviet times, when Russian society was forcibly steeped into atheism.
The film's actors deliver top notch performances, the cinematography is excellent, and the sound design is thought through. A great film for those who want to get a truly spiritual experience, and encounter a world that few in the west are familiar with.
This movie is a cry for God, for repentance, for continuous prayer, for simplicity and humbleness, especially now in a Babylonian "unified" world where "political correctness" is more important than anything spiritual that might turn man to God. We know how to say "I'm sorry" in many sophisticated and intellectual ways but we don't feel it. We are cold. A movie that has the power to save our souls. From the same realm, the last excellent film I saw was Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev. You don't need 10 lines of text to summarize this movie.... one word that defines perfectly this masterpiece is "prayer"! Continuous prayer! God bless!
Though all of my friends were recommending this picture I was very skeptical about it at first, I could not imagine the director of "Oligarch" to make something really worthy, I was mistaken and I realized it within the first moments of the movie. During the whole film I was filling delight for every moment of the film, the acting, the work of operator... everything was great, especially the idea, to be more concrete the way director brought the idea to us. It took Russians more than 20 years to make movie of Tarkovsky's level, so I am not afraid of the word "masterpiece" in this case. So far I have watched this movie two times and I am sure that I will watch it some more times. I think that this movie will be interesting for all kind of people, despite their likes in the field. So if you have not seen it, go and watch it!
Some scenes in this film have an almost Bergman-like quality to them. I
had anticipated that somehow the clergy depicted would be subjected to
at least subtle ridicule, which has become common practice in most
films produced in the West. Refreshingly, this was not the case. I had
never suspected that a work of such spiritual dynamism could arise so
soon from the ashes of the Soviet Union. The main characters were
presented as spiritually honest people, who consciously struggled with
their human weaknesses. The presentation of Russian Orthodox monastic
practice was quite intriguing and instructive. A second viewing of the
film clarifies some of Fr. Anatoly's peculiar behavior, which proves to
The movie also is available on DVD with English subtitles. Currently, you will need a DVD player that plays all regions to view. Maybe, someday this film will be dubbed in English, which would make this excellent work available to a wider audience.
The plot begins as a story about an ordinary man, who yielded to his weakness and preferred killing his mate and saving his own life to being killed himself. The second part of the movie is a story of no man, but of a soul, attempting to become forgiven and find piece. The picture makes you experience its suffering and need for repentance, as if it were yours - so it can be called a kind of spiritual masterpiece. During this experience you can look at your way of living with fresh eyes, which results in a kind of real purification. The fact that a picture which neither cannot be called an action nor contains erotic scenes still is able to thrill people is very pleasant!
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