Ostrov movie or The Island, directed by Pavel Lungin and written by Dmitry Sobolev, was produced by an independent Russian film production company Pavel Lungin Studio in 2006, won MTV Movie Awards, Russia (2007), Nika Awards (2007) and Best Russian film of 2006.
Ostrov means “island” in a few Slavic languages and Romanian and was filmed in the city of Kem, on the White Sea shores.
Ostrov Movie – Synopsis
The main character of the film is sailor Anatoly. During World War II, he and his captain Tikhon are captured by the Nazis.
The Nazi officer leading the raid offers Anatoly the choice to shoot Tikhon and stay alive, which Anatoly reluctantly takes, and Tikhon falls overboard. The Nazis blow up the ship but Anatoly is found by Russian Orthodox monks on the shore the next morning.
He survives and becomes a monk at the monastery, but is perpetually overcome with guilt.
The Washington Post wrote:
“After it opened in Moscow, priests and bishops began to bless the film, often standing in prayer outside theaters.”
Thirty-four years later, Anatoly, like the other prophets, now has the gifts of prophecy and the power to heal. People come to see Anatoly as they are seeking spiritual guidance (the monks from the monastery don’t really approve), but even now, he remains in a perpetual state of repentance.
He often gets in a boat and goes to an uninhabited island where he prays for mercy and forgiveness.
The remoteness of the monastery, the simplicity of the monastery life, and the season of winter add to the sense of penitence and prayer. All of these things cause the viewer to contemplate their own view of spirituality and to consider the Orthodox way as portrayed in Ostrov movie.
The film is focused on father Anatoly’s repentance of his sin (therefore the virtually continuous occurrence of the Jesus Prayer), but the transgressions of the depicted character (a fool for Christ) and their impact on the others are the means by which the actual plot develops.
The film’s director Pavel Lungin, speaking of the central character’s self-awareness, said he doesn’t regard him as being clever or spiritual, but blessed “in the sense that he is an exposed nerve, which connects to the pains of this world.
His absolute power is a reaction to the pain of those people who come to it;” while “typically, when the miracle happens, the lay people asking for a miracle are always dissatisfied” because “the world does not tolerate domestic miracles.”
Screenwriter Dmitry Sobolev further explains:
“When a person asks for something from God, he is often wrong because God has a better understanding of what a person needs at that moment.”
Dmitry Sobolev later added:
“Pyotr Mamonov, who plays the lead character, formerly one of the few rock musicians in the USSR, converted to Eastern Orthodoxy in the 1990s and lives now in an isolated village. Pavel Lungin said about him that “to a large extent, he played himself.”
Mamonov received a blessing from his confessor for playing the character.