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Animation / Ostrov

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Ostrov ("Island") is a 1973 animated short film (ten minutes) from the Soviet Union, directed by Fyodor Khitruk.

A man sits on a lonely desert island—an absurdly tiny island, so small that there's barely room for him to sit. (Let's not think about the lack of fresh water.) At first, the ships that pass by simply fail to notice his frantic waves. Eventually, however, they do notice him, and he receives a parade of visitors: anthropologists, tourists, colonizers, missionaries, and more. All of them notice him, many of them exploit him or his island, but none of them bother to help him.



  • Allegory: The cartoon is an obvious allegory for alienation from society. Speedboats whiz by, a "supermarket" boat stops and tries to sell the man stuff, tourists visit and pose for pictures, an oil company wrecks the island, but no one will help the man except for another castaway, someone whose circumstances are just as dire as his.
  • The Aloner: He's the aloner at the start of the cartoon at least. And given how everyone ignores him, he basically stays that way.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: The complete indifference of everyone to the man and his welfare. A priest in a floating cathedral shows up, prays over the man, and leaves. Anthropologists come, study the man, and leave. Tourists visit, and a buxom bikini-clad woman sits on the man's lap for a picture...and they leave.
  • Evil Colonialist: In one scene a gigantic warship bristling with guns pulls up to the little island. A party lands on shore, they sing the national anthem and plant their flag, and leave, leaving the man alone again.
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  • Eye on a Stalk: The submarine periscopes that pop up and assess the man appear as eye stalks with a pair of blinking eyes. When oil is discovered on the man's island and submarines start swarming all over the place, one runs into another and gives the second a black eye in its eye stalk.
  • "Far Side" Island: Several years before Gary Larson drew his first tiny island, this cartoon shows a little gnome of a man on an island just like the ones Larson drew, barely big enough for him and the single palm tree.
  • Green Aesop: One of the themes is the environmental destruction of the island. The man, who is usually bleakly passive, breaks down sobbing after some guys show up and cut down his only tree to use as fuel for their boat. As more visitors stop by the island, it gets increasingly covered with litter. Finally, some people drill an oil well on the island, totally destroying it. The man is left sitting forlorn on the handle of the shut-down oil well.
  • Hope Spot: Several times the castaway gets noticed by someone, but instead of helping him off the island they just pass him by or leave him there (but usually not before exploiting him somehow).
  • Ironic Juxtaposition: One scene shows a barge passing behind the man, carrying new cars from left to right, while at the same time another identical barge passes in front of the man, carrying junked, crushed cars from right to left.
  • Limited Animation: The scene is drawn very simply, with a sketch of a shaggy, ball-shaped man (basically, head, beard, and feet), a tiny island with its one tree, and a line denoting the horizon. Sometimes averted with the ships which pass the man, which are more intricately drawn.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: After the man's island is destroyed and he's left sitting on the cap of the tapped-out oil well, a second, near-identical man comes by, keeping afloat with nothing more than a stick. The second man gestures to the man on the island, who joins him and grabs the stick. They paddle away to the horizon together as the cartoon ends.
  • Speaking Simlish: The only dialogue in the cartoon is either gibberish, or normal speech sped up to the point it's unintelligible.