OCTPOB (The Island)

It's Russian. Pronounced "Ostrov". The title of the BEST foreign film I have seen in a long long time. Ever, actually.

I highly recommend this movie.

It starts out with the monk, in a desolated place, at the monastery of Ostrov, praying the Jesus Prayer. He falls down, and presumably dies.

Then a flash back, to 1942, during the Great Patriotic War (known to us as WWII). A young teenaged sailor in the navy who's job it is to stoke the coal furnaces of the ship is very frightened when Nazis come on board and commandeer the vessel. He looses his cool, pleads for his life, and is compelled by the Nazis to shoot his captain, who then falls overboard, in exchange for his life.

The cruel Nazis have plans to blow the ship up, and leave the young sailor to his fate. Instead of dying, though, he washes up on the shore at Ostrov, and the monks care for him.

Fast forward to 1976. Father Anatoly is a holy fool and a prankster. He is the one who was rescued by the monks all those years ago. He humbly stokes the furnace, just as he did on the boat. But his crazy antics also annoy some of the other monks.

This movie is a story about the human soul. It tells of forgiveness, repentance, human hearts and sin, and the confrontation of each of these with the Holy.

This movie is peppered heavily with Orthodox prayers and I would say offers a glimpse into Orthodox monastic spirituality, just as the movie "Into Great Silence" offers a glimpse into one style of Roman Catholic monasticism.

Like that movie, this one is breathtaking in it's scenery and cinematography. The landscape is stark, rendering the movie almost black and white, although it is in color.

Unlike "Into Great Silence" this movie is a bit earthy, just as Eastern Orthodox Christianity is. At the same time, it is important to note that this glimpse into Orthodox monasticism is more "universal" in the sense that Orthodoxy does not allow for different religious "orders". The monastic rule in Orthodoxy is simply the monastic rule and does not differ from place to place, so this film offers a broader peek than into one community.

One of my favorite lines, besides the beautiful and familiar prayers and psalms was when Fr. Anatoly said to one of the monks: "We are all sinners! Just go and try not to sin too much."

This film is definitely on my "to own" wish list.


Anonymous said…
I REALLY want to see that movie!! Everyone is saying fantastic things about it.
Mimi said…
I couldn't get it to play on my DVD player, sadly. I can't wait to get a copy that does play.
DebD said…
Ha! We've been watching this movie at our house this week too. And I've also seen Into Great Silence Both similar but very different. (and I just wrote about it on my blog too!).

I just LOVED this movie. I plan to watch it again and then start passing it around to friends at church.
Elizabeth said…
Have a look on EBay; they often have versions which are NTSC compliant and will work on USA TV/DVD set ups.This one does :-


Russia, like the UK, uses a PAL display format.

It is a glorious film. One of my alltime favourites.
Amy said…
Thanks for the recommendation, I will definitely look for it at the library.
Jenny said…
This sounds wonderful, Alana!
Maria said…
Hello from Greece. I did also have seen the movie "the island" some days ago, and i' ve seen it more than 3 times. I think, everything is described in the movie is always same in reality. And what i did liked is that does not want to persuade anybody for anything. It' s the silent way... Forgive me about my english, are not good, but i' m trying. Greetings to everybody, may the God helps us all, always.
Anonymous said…
It shows that we are all here for a purpose, that when our purpose is fulfilled, we can then ask God to forgive us and can then know we will be accepted into his Kingdom peacefully, without hesitation, worry or fear! Peace Be to us All, Do not forsake us who have Faith in You, Save our Souls and Have Mercy upon Us.
Anonymous said…
http://www.rapidshareindex.com/Ostrov_168761.html here is the movie for anyone who have rapidshare
demir said…
I'm a muslim from Turkey, It was really fantastic film except for calling Jesus(─░sa) as God. Coz God has no children, wife or any affilliation with his creations. Jesus is a human like Prophet Adam who hasn't a father. Allah is Mighty and able to do everything. But I'm not worried about that coz when Jesus return he will teach this to all chiristians.

The film was impresive, it teachs how to pray sincerely. I'm pleased that Russians can make like this films. Greetings to all people who love God and His prophets.
Alana said…
Hi Demir,

glad you liked the film. As a Christian I have to disagree with your understanding of theology, but I'm always glad to hear of anyone who seeks to worship and obey God.

May the One God reveal Himself to each of us.

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