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Island | Film Review

Anubhav Chakraborty

September 17, 2022 3 min read

Movie: Island

Director: Elly Cho


A monument will never change how she feels. It’s unfair that victims should have to forgive those who raped, tortured, and killed, or burned villages to the ground. On an Island of World Peace, shouldn’t those who inflicted terrible harm on others be forced to confess and atone, and not make widows and mothers pay for stone monuments? (https://conversionwise.com/) ”

― Lisa See, The Island of Sea Women


Elly Cho’s directorial Island is a brilliant silent movie that touches upon the heartstrings of its viewers. In the short film, the director uses the island as a metaphor for life. We see her own life unfolding through a dance piece that echoes the theme of liberation and transformation. 

Elly is a world citizen, and as someone who feels extremely drawn towards nature, she often uses the natural aspects as her key characters in her projects. She has stayed in London, Manhattan, and Jeju Do for quite a significant amount of time. Island is inspired by all the islands she has lived in all her life. In the movie she uses dance as a means of communication and hope.


The movie beautifully plays upon the theme of time. On a superficial level, the movie gives  the feeling of the time on a standstill, as if the moment and the movement have been sealed, and loops into a set duration. But in reality, the depiction of the journey and finding hope achieves a sense of timelessness. The movie portrays issues like  loneliness, isolation, and the perseverance of the human spirit. The two selves are drowning and this drowning is a symbolic transition for the character. Elly juxtaposes extreme contemporaneousness with mysticism and symbolism derived from her past. The structure of her movie is built out of a beautiful contrast in time. She successfully dares to set the modern way of perspective with the memories of her past. From the beautiful representation of life and hope, it can be inferred that Elly wants to create a soul that would persevere to belong into its own world.  

Islands are a place where the connection begins and also this is a place that reminds one of isolation. Across the cultural images, the island can be seen as something that preserves, and also as something that destroys. Elly’s character is a fragment of her past experiences, and the island serves as an altar in the narrative. This is where the character resurrects like a phoenix, demolishing all the self-doubts and the dilemmas.

Island not only shows a beautifully crafted piece of movie, but also pleases the eyes of its viewers. The soothing yet impactful colour palette of this short easily captivates the spectators. The colours of the costumes emphasises the duality of the human minds and highlights the emotional turbulence in which our character is caught.

Elly is often known to use natural elements as the showstoppers of her projects and this one is definitely no different. She says, “My art attempts to reconcile the past with the present, inspiring viewers to reflect on the landscapes of their personal and cultural histories. Using various media, I often create installations while attempting to capture moments that evoke a fundamental recognition of nature and environment.” True to her words, Elly is truly a gem to look out for in the near future.

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