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
When Janusz and the others spot the tattoo of Lenin and Stalin on Valka's chest, he angrily replies that they were great men. Such tattoos were in fact employed by criminals in the false hope that they wouldn't be shot there as it was supposed to be illegal to deface an image of either Lenin or Stalin; although it is well-known that the executions were conducted via shooting in the back of the head. See more »
In the establishing long shot of the woodcutters, many of the prisoners are clearly only pretending to cut the logs, only tapping them with their axes. See more »
This is a film for people who appreciate epic landscapes and survivor stories. It has some engaging characters but not brilliant dialogue or complicated characters. Mostly, it is a visual film, displaying the vulnerability of a few people in a harsh, vast, beautiful landscape. They must depend on each other, and they develop an intimacy based on their shared struggle rather than on deep conversations and emotional revelations, or at least, not until a young girl joins them. Weir seems to be commenting on the yin yang of masculinity/femininity at times in this film. I also liked the subtle underlying commentary on the brutal oppression of the Soviet regime under Stalin.
All of the actors were good; Farrell adds a touch of humor, Sturgess portrays anguish well, and Harris is a good tough old guy--his usual persona. By the way, Manohla Dargis in The New York Times complains that Farrell is too good-looking to be a Russian gangster. What this assessment is based on I can't imagine; doubt Dargis hangs with Russian gangsters.
77 of 94 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?