Ostrov Has Come

poster.jpg Well, I got in the mail today, my copy of Ostrov (The Island) (link is official movie site in Russian only; the IMDb link is here; and you can order it from Amazon here, but ensure that you are ordering the NTSC version). The movie is only in Russian, but the distributor included a very helpful guide to setting up the English subtitles (for dialogue only).

This movie is absolutely phenomenal. Our beloved deacon purchased a copy and a handful of the parish men saw it a bit more than a week ago. I’ve seen it a couple of times and will watch it again tonight, very likely. The cinematography and musical score are incredible. Everything is very very simple and austere, and yet incredibly beautiful.

It is a fictional tale, but is definitely built on the Orthodox tradition of the holy fool, on the life of repentance and prayer, on humility and suffering. I know nothing about the director or the lead actor (Pyotr Mamanov), let alone of the scriptwriter, but somehow this team captured quite well a truly Orthodox picture of life. (Disclaimer: I’ve only been Orthodox for a few months, so the evaluation is only as good as that.)

The beauty and goodness of the movie so captivates one that one is moved to centering one’s life around simple repentance and prayer. The movie starts with the main character praying the Jesus prayer, and cuts away as he lies face down in the frozen moss, continually reciting the prayer. The movie ends with his blessed and holy, and understated, death, and his fellow monks rowing his body to the very place where the movie starts–and the place where he faces the climactic battle against the devil.

As my blog readers know, I have wrestled so much with the move from head to heart–and still do; I’m so unstable. This movie has helped me immensely by providing fuel for my imagination. As a metaphor, it pictures for me that toward which I must strive: simple and humble holiness of life, infused and suffused with prayer and repentance.

I cannot highly enough recommend that everyone see this movie, and, if possible, acquire it for your own use.

12 thoughts on “Ostrov Has Come

  1. Thanks for the tip, I can’t wait to see it. It seems like a hard film to find in the US, so I’m downloading the torrent, of which there are many available.

  2. You should look into the films of Russian Orthodox filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, who directed Andrei Rublev, (the original, not George Clooney) Solaris, and Nostalgia to name a few. He is popular with Orthodox folk, apparently includes many Orthodox spiritual themes in his films, and you might like it.

  3. I have seen it and it is indeed a lovely, moving and inspiring movie.

    I am curious, I have loaned my copy to a couple of friends who could not get it to work on their DVD player. Could you contact me and tell me the instructions you were given? I have a new DVD player that conveniently had a “subtitle” button so I wasn’t an issue for me, but I’d like to be able to share this more.


  4. debd:

    The instructions I was given is to select the second option from the left on the “menu” screen.

    On the subsequent screen you want to move your cursor to the second row of options (a listing of the languages, apparently). Select the third option from the left on the second row (if you know any Greek you can sort of make out the Anglisky or what have you). The third option on the second row is “English.”

    On my DVD player that second screen sort of “reloads” and then I have to move the cursor to the very bottom word (apparently the equivalent of “menu”) and select it. But on my lap top, after selecting that third option the “menu” word below it is already highlighted.

    That takes you back to the first screen. If you select the first option, the movie will begin playing.

    Hope that helps.

    (Sort of makes you want to learn Russian just for this movie, huh?)

  5. Great movie. Our church had a “viewing party” with our copy, and then went in on a bulk purchase for those who wanted their own copy. We ordered more than 20 total, so the price was $16 per DVD (plus shipping).

    Re: problems playing it, there are a couple things to note:

    The DVD defaults to the DTS audio track, I believe. This means that if your receiver does NOT decode DTS sound, you need to pick the Dolby Digital 2.0 or Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track (track 1 or 2), or you will hear no sound from the DVD.

    It’s a region-free DVD, if I recall correctly. Our Sony DVD player is several years old, and was made before DVD-R and DVD+R discs were widely used, so it did not technically have the capability to play these, though I can actually get it to play DVD+R discs if I enter the service menu and have it calibrate itself for a single-layer and a dual-layer DVD. It seems to have similar problems with region-free DVDs (The U.S. and Canada are NTSC Region 1), and I have to calibrate my DVD player before playing OSTROV, or it freezes up or gives me the dreaded 13:00 disc error message.

  6. Thanks Benedict. I’m going to copy and paste this and see how it works for me when I get the DVD back again.

    I took Russian in college many years ago… it occasionally comes back ;). Hubby knows NT Greek so we should be able to limp along. Actually, I have a hankering to learn Greek now that I’m Orthodox.

  7. I just viewed Octpob for the first time. (I figured out the subtitles through trial and error. The directions above confirm how mine worked–don’t buy the PAL edition.)

    I’ve been reading all I can find about the film on the internet, but not one person has mentioned that much of the life of this Fool for Christ comes directly from the life of St. Feofel. Read his life if you haven’t. The copy I have (Hieroschemamonk Feofil, Fool for Christ’s Sake was compiled by Vladimir Znosko and published by Holy Trinity Monastery.)

  8. Ostrov is definitely based upon the life of Blessed Feofil (Hieroschemamonk Feofil) and I have been reading his biography (online Actually). Just google “Hieroschemamonk Feofil” and you’ll find books to purchase (Hieroschemamonk Feofil, Fool for Christ’s Sake was compiled by Vladimir Znosko and published by Holy Trinity Monastery.) or the online version (with many grammatical errors). I think that you will find that this movie was based upon the life of Blessed Feofil (Theophil). Even if you fail to see the connection, you will be blessed beyond belief by his life and works!

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