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The Way Back (I) (2010)

PG-13  |   |  Adventure, Drama, History  |  21 January 2011 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 82,841 users   Metascore: 66/100
Reviews: 155 user | 214 critic | 33 from Metacritic.com

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



(screenplay) (as Keith Clarke) , (novel), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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


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


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:




| |

Release Date:

21 January 2011 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Camino a la libertad  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£1,327,650 (UK) (31 December 2010)


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

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In the film's end credits it says, that The Way Back was only "inspired" by Slavomir Rawicz's book "The Long Walk"(1955), not "based" on it. The film never claims to be a 'true story', but rather to be informed by historical research. Peter Weir only took the basic storyline of Rawicz' popular book, but changed the names and added other characters and events based on historical sources. The central character doesn't represent the real-life Rawicz, therefore his name was changed to 'Janusz Wieszczeck'. The character Valka, played by 'Colin Farrel', is not in Rawicz' book. See more »


Janusz demonstrates a method using shadows of a stick and rock to find the compass direction of south. Yet, many of the scenes show them walking in a direction inconsistent with sun angles i.e. sun at their backs, which would have them walking north. See more »


[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 »


Referenced in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #1.14 (2011) See more »


Written by Burkhard Dallwitz
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Peter Weir returns with a masterpiece
19 December 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Anyone familiar with Peter Weir's incredible body of work - particularly his earlier Australian-produced movies - knows that a new Weir movie is an important event indeed. Almost all Weir's too-infrequent movies are at least noteworthy (Witness, Dead Poets Society) if not downright great (Year of Living Dangerously, The Last Wave).

With The Way Back, Weir may have made his greatest film ever. An epic and unrushed (2 1/4 hours) trek from a Soviet Gulag to the green hills of India, this is a beautifully filmed and superbly acted piece. Let it take its time; it is thrilling and appalling, but also beautiful.

The story, which Weir apparently has long wanted to film, is based on the account of a Polish army officer who later moved to England and wrote (with a ghost-writer) the book "The Long Walk," describing the journey he took with seven others. The movie is quite true to the book, right down to the American "Mr. Smith," Ed Harris' character. While the veracity of the story in the book has been questioned, that doesn't interfere with the great film-making.

Harris is fine as always, as is Colin Farrell as a Russian thug, but it is Jim Sturgess, as the Polish leader of the expedition, who has the most bravura performance.

Bravo to the cast, cinematographer, and most of all, Mr. Weir.

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