Ostrov (2006) Poster


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Rather an Orthodox Christian testimony... but also a film accessible to anyone, regardless religious background
realx-129 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.
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surprisingly great film
marokand24 December 2006
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.
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A very spiritually moving film, showing a unique world.
Tgrain15 February 2007
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.
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chaos1-224 November 2006
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 people.

Highly recommended.
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"Golden Hearts" series continues in Russia
trilonb15 October 2006
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.

Enjoy. D.
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lobzhanidze16 May 2007
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!
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The Prayer of the Heart
Beowulf-3111 February 2007
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 be clairvoyant.

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.
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Mike Teren8 January 2007
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.
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Heartwrenching movie
sergepesic6 February 2011
This is an Orthodox movie in its core, and it might not appeal to people of different religious backgrounds. Orthodox church is not a church of comfortable and simple, but ridiculous answers. Its path is hard and full of obstacles, and the fight for salvation, is life long. Of course, this is completely opposite to evangelical, easy fix theology that calms the minds of the naive folk. This movie is not an advert for converting to the Orthodox faith. How could it be? All three monks that we see in this movie are struggling to understand their spiritual journey.Being religious is a tough gift, not for the faint of heart.
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A movie that has the power to save souls.
gaborovitch29 January 2007
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!
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A story of a human soul
spes431 January 2007
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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An initiatic film
dhalmagean22 July 2007
I don't think to "Ostrov" as a movie. (by the way: there is also a novel "Ostrov" based on which the film was done, and we all know how great and deep writers has Russia given to the world).

This is more than a movie. Check your state of spirit after seeing the movie. For a time, after the movie, you are another human being. The film has the power to change you - even just for a while. And this is not a spell. This is because - shortly - you can see (it is offered to you) the essence of the human being. Afterwards you goes back down in your cave, as you can not continue by your own to see it. (this is your limitation, not movie's). But the traces remains in your soul. It is like an initiation. I don't consider it especially linked to the orthodox church. There are principles in this film which transcends religions. A man have a mission on this earth. Only few peoples knows their mission. Father Anotoly have lived just to accomplish his mission. Shortly after, he died. An initiated human being knows when he will die. And death is not something awful for him. He prepares for his death, it is just another step. Another import idea in the film: how strong are human beings attached to not important things. This stop them to see the essence. And this is the drama of the society.

The film shows also the difference between being a real religious man and being part of the church institution.

The film can be interpreted from various points of views. It is amazing how reach in meanings it can be. For everybody interested in spiritual life: it is a MUST.
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No Man is an Island....
Tim Kidner26 April 2012
Somehow, Father Anatoly, (born again Christian ex rock star Pyotr Mamanov) a rather unorthodox Orthodox monk who lives on the titular Russian Baltic island, is very much his own island.

Anti-social, dirty, and a prankster that both annoys and causes discomfort to his fellow monks, Anatoly is a troubled old man who is harbouring a soul-destroying act that he was forced to commit, over forty years previous.

Strangely, this unkempt and rather obnoxious figure seems to hold healing powers that his superiors do not understand or particularly approve of. A string of characters visit the almost impossible to reach monastery and they target Father Anatoly, who is dressed in rags and not in the Orthodox robes of the others.

This film reminded me so much of the excellent south Korean film 'Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter....Spring', which in some ways is unfortunate for The Island as I am comparing it against the former. That's why I'm awarding 7, not 8/10. Whilst hauntingly beautiful throughout, with its poetically arctic landscapes, it lacks the subtlety and ultimate tenderness that would really make it special. The comical moments are just a little clumsy and some of the miraculous undertakings a little beyond credibility.

Spiritually, the ending is glorious and special, with the silent soundtrack before rousing to a joyous climax.

I rented this DVD from my local library, showing how diverse and useful their collections can be. Try them!
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One of the best European Christian Movies
dancemacabre30 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
As from the beginning I feel the dramatic power of this film. It was unusual, melancholic and deeply Christian. Opening scene when old man pray his repentance to Jesus Christ with dramatic music in the background is very emotional and strong, not saw in a long time such a dramatic opening scene.

This is a story of sin and repentance of an old man which destiny is set in Russian monastery on isolated island. Old man, called Anatoli from sinner developed to a saint who become a charismatic healer, which people visiting from far away. At the near end of the movie Anatoli exorcise the demons from one town girl.

Through the entire movie is present kinda melancholic atmosphere. The setting is cold and isolated and the characters are interesting. Main role Anatoli giving such a naturalistic and convincing performance, he honestly deserve Oscar for foreign performance.

I recommend this movie to all fans of European art movies with strong performance and of course to all Christian, especially Ortodox ones.
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It is a movie about a model in life
sltraian200213 April 2008
First, I must say I am an orthodox man.

The "Ostrov" movie it is not an political movie and not necessarily related to the current situation from Russia today (although it may help its spiritually lost people).

It is a movie full of religious advises and it illustrates the portrait of a saint, even compared with the orthodox priests. Father Anatoly could be seen as an ideal to reach in spiritual life. And this is valid for all Christian mankind ! Of course, this not means that all of as should follow this ascetic way in life but, as the main character says before he dies, try to make less sins in life. And this way our world would be a much better place !
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A profoundly affecting spiritual experience
Gordon-1110 September 2007
This film is about a young soldier committing a grave sin, and hence spends the rest of his life being a monk, praying and repenting every day in order to redeem his sin.

"Ostrov" proved to be a phenomenally moving and affecting spiritual experience that is unparalleled by any other film. From cinematography, composition of scenes, scenery, philosophical messages, religious messages and the good side of humanity are all absolutely prefect beyond any description. The slow pacing and monochrome colours adds to the high level of religious message and spirituality. The most thought provoking scene is when Father Anatoli curses the devils, therefore helping his senior, Father Filaret to achieve a higher level of spirituality. The ending is deeply affecting, and it is almost impossible not to be touched to tears. My friends and I were deep in thoughts for an hour after the film finished. This film is a perfect piece of art that offers an unprecedented spiritual experience. It is a must see.
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_THE_ _MOVIE_! Nothing more to add to that ...
eksellentz6 May 2007
Best movie to be seen in cinema's today!

Nothing else currently shown anywhere in the world could even match this one!!!!

Russian cinema at it best!

Forget Tarkovsky - Pavel Lungin is the new master if modern philosophical cinema of the world!

Ten plus and even more for this one!!!!

Jist a note for the unaware - Petja Mamonov - playing the main part of Father Anatoli - is THE rock music figure in Russia. He is truly the most interesting rock figure of the the entire world today and maybe ever! Get a hold of some of his music, early albums to be preferred!
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Masterpice - story that heal human soul
djuzoran25 October 2012
What to say about this movie, one word should describe it: MASTERPIECE.. First, for me was to slow, but after ~ 20 minutes I was so enthusiastic. Great movie, great actor(s), great story. The best movie I watched this year. I watched this movie yesterday, I am sure that I will watch it some more times. The cinematography is excellent, main actor (Fr. Anatoli) is excellent, story is excellent. Story about crime and repentance. These kind of things happens in real word, in many countries, so this is not only story of Orthodox Christian, but for all people no matter of religious background. This movie return faith and heal souls. My recommendation as one movie that you must watch before you die :)
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little birdie20 June 2010
Warning: Spoilers
A wonderful depiction of the Orthodox Christian Faith and its teachings.

The least shall be first in the kingdom of Heaven.

Pray without ceasing: Lord, Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Rid oneself of the passions, such as ego and material attachments, and draw close to the Holy Spirit.

This movie gives great insight to the goal of the Orthodox faithful, which is to reach theosis or the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and shows that the goal is obtainable for anyone.
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The best picture in the orthodox world
florinfilipoiu29 June 2009
It is a wonderful picture, a masterpiece. It is the first picture where I saw people make orthodox cross. One of any picture who praise Iisus Hristos, the son of God. Here in orthodox world, (only in Romania we have over 1000 monasteries) we are very faithful to Iisus Hristos and this picture is a blessing for our souls. After I had been seen this picture, I believed the actor in prime role is a real monk. I heard Piotr Mamonov played in a rock band (in my opinion rock music is synonym to devil) and in this picture he find the God. Father Anatolie transfigured the irreligious to a faithful person. And the white-black image transform the picture in more veridical story. Maybe only Andrei Rubliov equal this picture. In this picture we will see the difference between the oriental people who believe in Iisus Hristos (who is the head of the orthodox church) and occidental people who does not go to pray the God in church and they will be only a good citizen. I understand the fact Piotr Mamonov after this picture he go to a monastery and suffer a total transformation. I believe (maybe I am wrong) only people (and only the orthodox) who lived in communism understood the real message of this picture: nothing is possible without God and Iisus Hristos and the world is full of sacraments. This sacraments are not possible to resolve by rational and cold minds of thousand academicians.
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A question
Armand28 April 2010
Only a question. About faith, gestures and God. About life more that pieces of smoke shadows. About the games of world and the words of a monk. A film about small things. And heavy pray. Orthodox and human. Warm and cruel. Drops of salt honey and mist walls. A feeling, emotion or trip in your sense, social character or excuses. History of a murder, at the end is the description of unique gift. Father Job,the fake widow, the young mother, Tikhon, father starets, Anatol-the fool in Christ - slices of every onlooker. A testimony about an universe who lives behind common colors. A masterpiece, with a great blue, with bundle of words, with the taste of childhood, with the delicate touch of a land where God is fresh bread.
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Simple, austere, kind, irreverent
kalmoth6 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
A beautifully filmed movie with sparse but very effective use of color, which at the same time promotes a very comprehensible and human ideal of faith and pokes fun at the official Russian Orthodoxy. Petr Mamonov's Anatoly follows the same traditions as the hallowed Russian mystic Nil Sorsky the Non-possessor - poverty, service, opposition to the greed of the official church, and not taking oneself too seriously. The movie's story is simple and traditional - it's a tale of redemption with multiple references to Russian folklore and hagiography (for example, a holy hermit was expected to make his own coffin). It doesn't try too hard to be profound. It manages something better though - it's kind and funny. The film was shot on the shore of the White Sea, in a little port of Kem, where pilgrim ships depart for the Solovetskii Monastery - an island fortress and spiritual retreat built in the fifteenth century. The settings give every outside shot an eerie beauty and authenticity. I took one point off a perfect score for the scene following Anatoly's death, which can be interpreted as giving the monastic busybodies Father Job and Father Filaret a chance to find their own redemption of a sort. Now, that was a stretch.
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good one (really)
smdd11 February 2007
Beautifully shot, nicely edited slow-paced parable I haven't seen for a long time. Sometimes everyone has to sit down to watch such a picture, fortunately sometimes such movies do reach our eyes and hearts. Great acting, but the soundtrack is not there to my thinking, I guess a different composer could have done a better job, but at least it doesn't spoil the movie badly. I've seen it at home, alone and I think it's the best way to see Ostrov - it's a very private movie for everyone. Wouldn't like to see it at a cinema, that's for sure. Rent it, watch it and you'll have a lot to realize. Good to see that it ain't necessary to spend a fortune to shoot such a good picture nowadays. God bless us all.
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A film for all - simply excellent
cutile_a19 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This is a film that can leave you breathless. I have watched it three times in three days and couldn't take my mind off it for a while. I remember that only Dostoievski's Crime and Punishment had had such a strong effect on me when I was a teenager. This is the story of a miserable, coward traitor who, through repentance, turns his life into an exemplary one. The acting of Pyotry Mamonov is effortless and simply superb. In my opinion, Ostrov is accessible to anyone and it is not at all a movie for the initiated in orthodoxy. As a matter of fact, I don't think it is so much about Orthodoxy itself, but rather about that encounter, that event that takes place in a human life and that can happen anywhere, anytime.
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a parable of impossible yet plausible faith
proteme18 May 2014
"The Island", or Ostrov, the Russian film, is a parable of impossible yet plausible faith.

It is a story of a corner of Russia where god and faith are as unquestioned as air and earth. With a habitat so harsh and unsparing, the place could well be mistaken for another planet. Yet the habitat is only a backdrop of the story and not once directly mentioned, just as air and earth are not mentioned in other stories. Both the faith and the environs are always present, yet the former is what everyone aware of, the latter is almost ignored.

In a land of unacknowledged yet unsparing harshness and unquestioned faith, the one who is abjectly faithful is the giant. Despite his uncouth ways and almost insane behavior, Father Anatoly towers above the other monks because his faith is complete. His submission to his god is total. Not a shred of vacillation, not an inkling of doubt. The other monks, with all the trappings and tinsels of organized religion fear him for the reason. They try disciplining him. But how does one tame a person by punishments when he is burning from within from the awareness of his own sins. They even try mocking his funny ways. But how do you shame someone who is so sure of his crazy beliefs. He seems to be living a spiritual life his own, at the periphery of the monastery. He seems to be aware of something beyond what other monks follow pedantically and ritually. They submit to him for there was not much else they could do. He cares naught for their submission, because even their submission is a distraction from his own journey of expiation.

I confess, as I watched the movie, I felt ashamed of the comfort that I live in. I confess that I became acutely aware of my faithlessness. Then I consoled myself that if one must be faithful, it has to be to the degree of Father Anatoly's. Any less, it would dissipate like an snowflake touched by sun. Unfaith accepts fractions, faith brooks none. So I return to my shameless existence, having unburdened myself of the momentary guilt.
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