Saturday, May 12, 2007


SFiFF2007 - The Island (Остров)

The Island (Остров) "The Island" ("Остров," Russia 2006, 112 min., shown at the 50th SFiFF) is a beautifully shot film about living with guilt and seeking for redemption.

Father Anatoly lives on a small island as an outcast among other monks but he has a reputation of being able to heal. The truth is he has been living with his sin he committed about 30 years ago at the end of the World War II. He isolates himself in a sanctuary in a remote island for many years, and all he does seem to pray and collect coal to heat the monastery where he lives. Will his soul be saved though?

I don't know much about Russian Orthodox even I have seen plenty Orthodox churches in my hometown since I was a little kid, so I can't say that I understand completely about the religion references in this film, which there are quite a bit. However, that doesn't stop me from enjoying this film. The outstanding performance by Pyotr Mamonov (Петр Николаевич Мамонов) as Father Anatoly and the breathtaking cinematography makes this an unforgettable film. During the film, I constantly feel the sharp contrast between the calmness of the snow covered island and the complex emotional struggle deep inside the protagonist.

Russian cinema has changed dramatically since the Soviet Union era. I hope Russians also change the way how they heat up their houses. Father Anatoly seems doing nothing but burning coal to heat the small monastery. While watching the film, I can't stop wondering how much he contributes to the global warming.

Would that be another sin he commits while he tries to salvage his soul? That should be the sequel to this film.


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