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The Island (2006)
51 out of 59 people found the following review useful:
Rather an Orthodox Christian testimony... but also a film accessible to anyone, regardless religious background, 29 May 2007

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.

Stalker (1979)
9 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Very profound and difficult to understand without a "key", 14 January 2006

I read all the previous comments, and I noticed very few were close to the deep (2nd plane, I could say) meaning of this movie. Andrei Tarkovski use the Strugatski Brothers' novel just as a pretext (or, maybe just to give the "superficial" - 1st plane - meaning of the movie). Maybe not many people are aware of the fact that Tarkovski was a devout religious person, an Orthodox Christian (as he declare himself in one interview). So, the whole movie is - in fact - a parable about the Orthodox / traditional Russian perspective of the life, man etc. We can equate the characters as it follows: The Zone = The Faith, the Path to God; The Meteorite = Jesus Christ; Stalker = Priest, Spiritual Father; Porcupine = Judas etc. The final monologue of Stalker's wife can be related, in this context, with the religious persecutions in Russia.

I spoke of the movie as having two layers of understanding; I think it would be more accurate to say it's n-layered, as it can be understood in many ways - as these pages of comments proves. Nevertheless, I think the most closed one from director's perspective is the religious interpretation.