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The Way Back (I) (2010)

7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 69,484 users   Metascore: 66/100
Reviews: 145 user | 204 critic | 33 from Metacritic.com

Siberian gulag escapees travel 4,000 miles by foot to freedom in India.

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(screenplay), (novel), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Way Back (2010)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Zoran
...
...
Alexandru Potocean ...
...
...
...
...
Sebastian Urzendowsky ...
Kazik
...
Interrogator (as Zahari Baharov)
Sally E. Brunski ...
Janusz's Wife, 1939 (as Sally Edwards)
Igor Gnezdilov ...
Bohdan
...
Andrei
Stanislav Pishtalov ...
Commandant
Mariy Grigorov ...
Lazar (as Marii Grigorov)
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Storyline

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. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

india | gulag | american | thug | tibet | See more »

Taglines:

Their escape was just the beginning


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violent content, depiction of physical hardships, a nude image and brief strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Language:

| |

Release Date:

21 January 2011 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Way Back  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$1,208,196 (USA) (21 January 2011)

Gross:

$2,677,401 (USA) (18 February 2011)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Saoirse Ronan (Irena) celebrated her 16th birthday on the set of this shoot. See more »

Goofs

When Irena is being carried in the desert, the film gets flipped. First she was on the left side, then during a close-up she is on the right, then when they go back out she's on the left again. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[in Polish, using English subtitles]
Interrogator: [presents pen to sign confession]
Janusz: No.
Interrogator: Bring in the witness.
Janusz's Wife, 1939: [brought in]
Interrogator: Do you know this man? His name?
Janusz's Wife, 1939: Janusz Wieszczek.
Interrogator: Witness, what's your relationship with this man?
Janusz's Wife, 1939: [crying] I am his wife.
[...]
See more »

Connections

References Time of Violence (1988) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A beautiful but very long walk
1 March 2011 | by (Sydney, Australia) – See all my reviews

The story of a small group of people escaping from a Siberian Soviet prison, part of the "Gulag" in wartime and walking 4000 miles to freedom looked a trifle grim in the trailer, but Peter Weir has managed to produce a rather beautiful film out of it, using Bulgaria and Morocco as locales rather than Siberia and the Gobi desert. Only Darjeeling in India plays itself. My only trouble with it is the rather uneven character development. The story lends itself to ensemble playing but we learn little about two or three of the walkers. In the case of the lead character Janusz (Jim Sturgess) who is the source of the story this is explicable as we are seeing the others though his eyes, but it has to be said that both "Mr Smith" (the excellent Ed Harris) and the Girl (Saiorse Ronan) leave a lasting impression.

I know there is some doubt as to the authenticity of the story, taken from a 1955 book by Slavimir Rawicz a former Polish army officer, and indeed what the group are supposed to have done looks impossible but that's not a problem, because the relationships ring true. It is remarkable how an almost random collection of individuals, including one with a very unsavoury past, can, driven by sheer necessity, wind up functioning as a team. Partly this is due to the leader actually having some navigational knowledge and therefore inspiring confidence in the others. Mr Smith remarks early on that the Janusz has a serious weakness; he is kind, but when the chips are down we see that even the hard-bitten Mr Smith is capable of compassion.

Strangely enough, after the initial scenes in the prison camp, and the escape, there is not a lot of drama. The group encounter very few people on their travels and those they do meet take little interest in them (perhaps they had not heard about the bounty for escapees). Obtaining food and water is obviously a big issue, so mind out for the messy hunting scenes. I was astounded at how well their footwear stood up to the punishment; my hiking boots are not good for 400 miles let alone 4000. Actually they must have wandered around a bit - the northern end of Lake Baikal and Lhasa in Tibet are about 1800 miles apart, though the prison camp was somewhere north of the lake. It's also not clear how long the walk took, but at times it seemed like years. Weir's great achievement is to keep us watching a very drawn out tale. Personally I think I would have died of boredom if I had been in this particular walk, if starvation hadn't got me first.


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