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(aka "The Island" or "Ostrov" )

 

directed by Pavel Lungin
Russia 2006

 

Not quite a monastery, more a handful of crumbling buildings and a bell tower, this retreat on an island in the Baltic is home to Father Anatoly (Pyotr Mamonov), a seemingly unofficial Orthodox monk said to possess mysterious healing powers. He's certainly a man of contradictions--riddling prankster one minute, fervent worshipper the next--whose devotion is partly explained by the opening World War II flashback showing Nazi invaders forcing him into killing a comrade. What follows is a contemplative fable, not without its wry wit, which effectively ponders the workings of faith, specifically the connection between gnawing guilt and a desire to do good-- the austerely beautiful surroundings (think ECM album covers) providing a strikingly appropriate context. Haunting cinematography and Mamonov's persuasive central performance almost seal the deal, yet there's something just too pat about the storytelling which prevents total surrender.

Excerpt of review from Trevor Johnston located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: November 23rd, 2006 (Russia)

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DVD Review: Artificial Eye (Spine # 488) - Region 0 - PAL

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

Artificial Eye

Region 0 - PAL

Runtime 1:50:00
Video

2.40:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.46 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Russian (Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0)
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.40:1

Edition Details:
• Theatrical Trailers

DVD Release Date: June 21st, 2010
Keep Case

Chapters 12

 

Comments

Originally released in Russia back in 2006, Pavel Lungin's "The Island" only recently has received its UK video debut courtesy of Artificial Eye. The film tells the story of a man, perhaps a huckster, but also truly penitent, who after accidentally killing a member of his own naval command finds himself on an all but deserted island. Once there he assumes the life of a monk and embraces the local population's belief that he has supernatural powers. I found myself less interested in the exploration on the nature of faith and repentance. It's been done before and better in Russian cinema. However, I did enjoy the material with exorcisms and healings. That being said, you can't separate the two aspects of the film and both parts of the character are equally who he is. While seeking penance, he (may) exploit God's name. In this sense we get a fascinating character whose motivations we're never quite sure of.

Although the image is by no means perfect, it still stands out as one of the better looking UK SD discs that I've seen recently. The film is shot in very cool colors. Most of the scenes take place at night, lit only by fire. Even for those scenes bathed in light, blues overpower the landscape, with the ocean, sky, etc. always figuring prominently into the shot. It often makes for a gorgeous aesthetic, but can be slightly distracting at times. Definition is usually quite strong, but the image can at times appear a bit glossy. There's an occasional instance of jaggies here and there, but no real artifacting to speak of otherwise. Overall it's a decent enough anamorphic transfer, and one that fan's of the film will appreciate.

The sound on the disc is very clear. Although I haven't had time to check out the stereo mix, the surround sound is a fairly nice mix with good contrast was well. The disc sports no unwanted background noises, but does come with optional English subtitles.

Unfortunately the disc's only extras are a series of trailers.

Given the fact that like most Artificial Eye releases, this disc can be purchased relatively cheap, I would certainly encourage interested parties to indulge. Recommended.

  - Brian Montgomery

 



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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Artificial Eye

Region 0 - PAL

 

 




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