The Island was released in 2006. Directed by Pavel Lungin, a talented Russian film maker, the movie has a carefully thought through cast as an essential component to its very texture, starring Pyotr Mamonov, for whom the role of father Anatoli is nearly autobiographical.
Smooth and delicate, The Island was filmed according to the best standards of modern cinematography. With technical aspects so well perfected, the film allows to concentrate on its main theme, its spiritual message. For viewers coming from other backgrounds than Russian Orthodox, the film opens up a door, a very wide door, into the world of intimate and authentic spirituality, unique and non-existent anywhere else outside Russia – a perfect opportunity to explore.
The plot is quite simple, and therefore so tragic. A soldier’s war crime becomes his sin, the sin that he cannot forgive himself, although he seems to be pardoned by the highest authority. The soldier becomes a monk, and a monk becomes the healer, the one for many lost souls on the vast territories of a wild and untamed country, the one for the confused and the desperate. Father Anatoli draws from his unlimited faith in God, his devotion and desire to please God through service, and his ability to see beyond the unseen, to know what is hidden from the eyes of common people. Why him, why is he chosen? There are no answers, only more questions. Aren’t we all chosen, aren’t we all recipients of the message – in different times and at different altitudes and frequencies?
People come and go, the monastery and the monks are still there, and so is the healer – at least for a while – and perhaps there’s so much to learn from many canonical books and prayers in those books, but The Island in the end makes only one point – know thyself.
Copyright Camilla Stein ©2012. All rights reserved.