The Island

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Ostrov (Ru:Остров, The Island) is a 2006 Russian biographical film about a fictional 20th century monk. The film closed the 2006 Venice Film Festival.

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. Thus, talking on character's self-awareness, film's director Pavel Lungin 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." Dmitry Sobolev, the scenarist, further explains: "When a person ask for something from God, he is often wrong because God has a better understanding of what a person wants at that moment."[1] Pyotr Mamonov, who plays the lead character, formerly one of the few rock musicians in 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.[1]

The simplicity, the humbleness, the remoteness, the miracles converge into creating a timeless snapshot of the Orthodox spirituality, apart from the historical circumstances. Patriarch Alexei II of Russia praised Ostrov for its profound depiction of faith and monastic life, calling it a "vivid example of an effort to take a Christian approach to culture."[2]

The filming location was the city of Kem, in Karelia, on the shores of the White Sea.[1]

Plot summary

During World War II, the sailor Anatoly and his captain Tikhon are captured by the Nazis when they board their barge and tugboat which is carrying a shipment of coal. 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 monks on the shore the next morning. He survives and becomes a stoker at the monastery, but is perpetually overcome with guilt.

Thirty years pass... Anatoly now has the gift of clairvoyance and healing. But the other monks don't really understand him. People come to see Anatoly for cures and guidance. 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.

A prominent admiral arrives to see Anatoly with his daughter. The daughter is possessed by demons but Anatoly exorcises them. The admiral turns out to be Tikhon. It is revealed that Anatoly only wounded him during the war. Tikhon forgives Anatoly.

Anatoly can now die peacefully. The monks discover that he has foreknowledge of his death and make him a coffin out of a coal box. he lies down in it, and dies. The coffin is buried on the uninhabited island where he spent his time praying.


  • Pyotr Mamonov — father Anatoly
  • Viktor Sukhorukov — father Filaret
  • Dmitry Dyuzhev — father Iov (Job)
  • Yuriy Kuznetsov — Tikhon
  • Viktoriya Isakova — Nastya
  • Nina Usatova — widow
  • Jana Esipovich — young woman
  • Olga Demidova — woman with child
  • Timofei Tribuntzev — young Anatoly
  • Aleksei Zelensky — young Tikhon
  • Grisha Stepunov — child
  • Sergei Burunov — adjutant


See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 «Остров». Фильм-событие. Фильм-проповедь ("The Island" - Film-event. Film-sermon), Russian Orthodox Church website, 2006-10-25, accessed 2008-03-17.
  2. Cf. Feature film about Orthodox monk sweeps Russian film awards, Ecumenical News International, 2007-02-01, accessed 2008-03-17.

External links