The Way Back (2010)

Posted: May 26, 2011 in Hollywood
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Way Back


In 1941, three men reach India from Tibet, having walked 4000 miles after escaping a Siberian gulag. The film tells their story and that of four others who escaped with them and a teenage girl who joins them in flight. The group’s natural leader is Janusz, a Pole condemned by accusations secured by torturing his wife; he knows how to live in the wilds. They escape under cover of a snowstorm: a cynical American, a Russian thug, a comic accountant, a pastry chef who draws, a priest, and a Pole with night blindness. They face freezing nights, lack of food and water, mosquitoes, an endless desert, the Himalayas, and moral questions of when to leave someone behind. –IMDb


Peter Weir


Peter Weir (screenplay), Keith R. Clarke(screenplay) and Slavomir Rawicz (novel “The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom”)


Jim SturgessEd Harris , Saoirse Ronan and Colin Farrell


 Adventure | Drama


Director Peter Weir, who also wrote the screenplay and produced this movie, has managed to create an epic film with some marvelous landscapes where the main message here is the constant struggle for life and freedom. He explores extreme situations lived by the characters in a very effective way. You can almost feel all the desperation and the great effort to keep going even in so many radical circumstances like the climate changes and starvation. In addition, I found interesting that Weir focused more on the philosophical and reflexive state of the characters instead of just showing us their day-to-day relations and interactions.

About the story, after being accused of espionage in Russia during the height of communism, Zoran (Dragos Balkur) finds himself wrongfully imprisoned in a gulag in the heart of Siberia, his only thoughts ones of escape. At the gulag he meets Valka (Farrell), a thug and gangster with a knife that Zoran needs to escape. He also enlists Mr. Smith (Ed Harris), the only American in the gulag, to help with the escape and together with a few others they manage to break free from the gulag, but that’s only the start of the story. From there they need to travel, on foot, thousands of miles into India, the only communist free country anywhere near them. Ronan stars as Irena, a Russian girl the escapees pick up along the way.

This is a moving film, based on a true story, told beautifully by Peter Weir. The locations are gorgeous. From the harsh snow-covered trees of Siberia, a terrifying blizzard blowing through the trees, to the stark, barren landscape of the deserts between Russia and China as they travel over the sand. The viewer gets the full brunt of the harsh conditions these men needed to survive to get to safety.

A still from The Way Back

There are moments of rye humor, and deep emotion. And a quietly growing bond between men who have nothing in common but the journey, and their individual capacity to endure it. But some may find the film a bit slow in a number of parts so it helps to have a great interest in the subject matter. The film isn’t boring, but I can see some people seeing it that way, especially if you’re used to today’s action movies.

The finale is the most intriguing part of the movie. Tricky almost but it resonates with the sadness of these broken humans, how the woman has stood in place punishing herself for a lifetime for her betrayal, the man having to wait a lifetime to absolve her. But everything said, I just felt the emotional factor was a bit less.

The performances are also great. The director took a huge risk casting Sturgess as the main lead because he is new to this game, but he did an amazing job as a man that needs to escape inescapable odds to right a wrong he didn’t even admit. Farell as Valka is as brilliant as always and shows his versatility again. His scary performance as a killer and psychopath that loves the people who put him in the prison he finds himself in, is a treat to watch. He carries that menace and unpredictability around with him with great aplomb. He and his distinguishable accent are remarkable. Ed Harris has also given a solid performance as always. Ronan is great as a girl who gets help from men that shouldn’t be able to give it. She has the right balance of vulnerability and strength to make her great to watch. She is great actor and a worthy Oscar nominee for her performance in The Atonement. This great cast including every other supporting actors really makes you care about the slowly bonding group as they travel mile after mile through harsh conditions and dangerous environments.

One should also mention the make-up done in the movie. The make-up crew did an incredible job on how the aspect of the human body changes along such a hard journey and they certainly deserved the Oscar nomination they received.

All in all, this is great inspirational movie that anyone that who enjoys a good prison escape film should watch. Big production, excellent actors, big scenery, extremely cold weather, extremely hot weather, lots of suffering by everybody involved, it’s worthy to watch this movie just because of the landscapes, so vast and majestic. After all these praises, some may find my rating a bit low but the movie just lacked the heart-wrenching emotional moments that this kind of movie should have. Besides that, its a must see the movie for the amazing cinematography and commendable performances. I rate it 7.5 out 10.

Watch the trailer…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s