Have you seen The Island?

It’s a Russian movie (original title, Ostrov) about a young man who is forced during the war to shoot his captain. Right after the tragedy, he ends up at a monastery and begins a tortured life of repentance, which frequently drives his fellow monks to exasperation.

The movie primarily follows the closing chapter of Fr. Anatoly’s life. Regarded as a holy man, locals flock to him for his spiritual insight. In one scene a fearful young woman comes to him, hoping somehow for a rationale to abort her baby.

“[Y]ou’ll be cursing yourself all your life that you killed an innocent child,” says Fr. Anatoly.

“How do you know?” the girl asks.

“Maybe I too killed a man,” he answers.

The story is moving and the acting superb. Fr. Anatoly is played by Pyotr Mamonov, a Russian songwriter and rock musician. The subtitles in the above version are not great, but it’s something pretty amazing to watch on a Sunday.

About Joel J. Miller

I'm the author of Lifted by Angels, a look at angels through the eyes of the early church. Click here for more about me or subscribe to my RSS here.

  • kevin kirkpatrick

    One of the best movies ever. Everyone of any creed can enjoy this incredibly well made and moving movie about the depths of true repentance. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Joel J. Miller

      I agree. Great movie.

  • David Parkhurst

    What surprised me the most about this movie was its humor. I was expecting it to be profound but dreary; however, many scenes had me laughing out loud.

    • Joel J. Miller

      I had the same experience. There are some laugh-out-loud moments — and very tender moments too. The scenery is dreary, but Fr. Anatoly brings his own charm to it. I’m smiling now as I remember him burning the abbot’s boots and chucking his fancy bed in the water.

      • David Parkhurst

        That’s possibly my favorite scene . . .

        • kevin kirkpatrick

          I think this is the climax of the whole movie. While I can see that it is humurous, it is also extremely intense. He is confronting the abbot’s worldiness in a very practicle way. He is uncompromising but acts out of love for his fellow monks and the people who come to see him. This movie captures orthodoxy perfectly, the mix of seriousness with good humour and warmheartedness. You guys are making me want to watch this movie again. I haven’t seen it for a couple of years. Should’ve done that instead of watching the premier of Downton abbey last night…

  • kmulhern

    One of the only movies I’ve actually purchased in years.


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