Review: Island – Documentary

It’s a difficult to discuss, and often taboo subject, but we really should be more open about death. Perhaps even more importantly, the death of those we love.

This moving and intimate film follows the lives of four terminally ill cancer patients, living on the Isle of Wight. Over the course of a year, director Stephen Eastwood allows them to express their feelings, sometimes directly to him, at other times in just talking with friends or to medical staff. But it is all their own words. The film has no commentary or narration. Shockingly perhaps, it opens with an image of death, and ends by filming the very end of someone’s life – someone we have got to know through the course of the film. Shocking footage, you might think, and I’ve certainly never seen film of someone’s dying moments, but it is strangely re-assuring in its own way, and audiences who have seen this have said it makes them less afraid of their own death. And all though the film is a recurring reminder of how life continues despite everything.

The ferry, which connects the island to the mainland, continually sailing back and forth, day and night, in good weather and in bad, serves as a metaphor for the world going on around us.  I’d  urge you to see this powerful and involving documentary.

You’ll think of little else for a few days afterwards, but the feeling that stay with you is one of being privileged to be able to observe something we often shy away from, but need to talk about more.

Words: Mark Perkins

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