Jul 162008


In re-watching the end of Ostrov tonight, I was even more irritated by some of the flaws at the end. The movie is a great one, but now I think the climax is sloppily done. (Go away if you don’t like spoilers.)

One part that bugs me is the exorcism. It’s done well, but the Father Anatoly character doesn’t quite fit. He has already announced that he will be dying shortly, but here he is, looking younger, stronger, cleaner, healthier, and better dressed than he did anywhere else in the movie, either before or after. He wears that heavy coat shown in the above image, where in other winter scenes he’s simply wearing his black robe. And no, it’s not that this scene takes place in bitter cold. There is a pool of water from which he washes Nastya’s face. In bitter cold that pool would have been iced over.

My best guess is that this scene was shot early in the process, while the filmmakers were still trying to feel their way as to how to portray the character. What they finally settled on was perfect. It’s too bad their earlier, less successful experiment (if that’s what this was) couldn’t have been redone.

The following paragraph might be considered a spoiler.

The other part is the final scene with Nikhon. I’m glad it wasn’t done Hollywood style, with hugs and over-dramatization. But the scene doesn’t seem to have made any difference. It doesn’t seem to have mattered much to the characters, and it doesn’t develop either of the character’s characters any further. The first time through I thought maybe I was just too dense to get it, or maybe there was something in the language that didn’t come through in the subtitles. But now, after a second viewing, it just doesn’t seem to work.

It’s still an excellent movie, though. Here is a scene that I just now found on YouTube. It’s one that does work. (Sorry, no subtitles.) It includes the prayer for the healing of the boy. It has especially good acting and good camera work. Note the camera position for that prayer by Pyotr Manonov/Father Anatoly.

Late edit: I said I just now found this clip? I see I had already posted a link to it several days ago. Oh, well.