The Island of (Im)Perfection By Suncica Unevska
The ninth edition of the Motovun Film Festival closed with the Russian film Island (Ostrov) by Pavel Lungin, but due to the fact that this film was shown at the very end, and because of the fact that it wasn’t part of the official competitive program, it seems that this exceptional achievement did not get the attention which it deserved. Truly, this year’s Motovun’s main program was very strong and it had a large number of strong and complex achievements, but still, Island distinguishes itself for many reasons.
Pavel Lungin, through the main character of father Anatoli (Pyotr Mamonov), has succeeded in a magical way to reflect the whole universe. This is because the whole controversial character of father Anatoli on many levels symbolizes life and death, reaching in its cruelest way the worst in life and the best in death. Life and its obverse, the life in which sense can not be found, in which is the place where we belong and where peace can not be found. But even death, the wanted peace can not come if you don’t clear the hardships that you carry within yourself.
Father Anatoli carries on its back the hardest sin, the sin of betrayal because of the murder of his captain in order to save his life during the Second World War when they were captured, the sin of cowardice. That sin will completely mark his life as well as his death, because no matter how much he wishes for it, it doesn’t come. Not until you embrace life because their connection is inevitable.
On the other hand, Lungin fantastically reflects the small religious community on the island where Anatoli spends 30 years, where in a very simple way he will capture a fascinating portrayal of characters. Anatoli, who will became famous as a psychic and a healer, is the person that walks towards the wind, he is everything that one community with fixed rules can not tolerate. But Lungin, with a great dose of balanced humor will portray both the positive and the negative in the lonely monastery on the island, the narrow-mindedness and the open-mindedness, the fear and the openness to accept the different, the power of the believers and the unbelievers and the strength to believe in the exit even where it doesn’t exist.
In the end, the film culminates with irony. The irony which, like an antithesis, always plays with the extremes. The cowardice of Anatoli is harshly punished but forgiven in the very end when he finds the peace he longed for far too long. His captain, who actually survived and an admiral now, the man that isn’t scared of anything, is forced to look for help for his daughter who is fighting the demons, confronting the father with a completely different side of life, the side which he never wanted to see. Filled with many characters that came to see father Anatolij for his help and who are fighting the prejudices and beliefs, accompanied with the beautiful landscape of the island, of the sea and the expansion that can be very cold but full of life as well, beautiful in their peace and expectation, transform this film into a perfectly complicated picture in which the whole universe with its contrasts are reflected. Island is a particular film which manages to capture perfection, to portray the world and its whole complexity through one seemingly little piece of imperfection.