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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 82,077 users   Metascore: 66/100
Reviews: 154 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?


Early in the film, as the prisoners are marched up to the front gate of the Gulag prison camp, a slogan written in Russian Cyrillic letters is seen over that gate. It is a slightly shortened variation of a famous propaganda slogan from Communist-era Soviet Union, which translates approximately to "Labor in the USSR is a matter of honour, a matter of valour and heroism." See more »


When they notice Janusz has left the Tibetan monastery and they call for him on the mountain ridge, K2 appears in the background, which is in the Karakorum mountains, far away from where the action rolls, near the Tibetan border with Nepal. 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 »


Featured in The 83rd Annual Academy Awards (2011) See more »


Written by Burkhard Dallwitz
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Peter Weir goes from ocean to desert
16 November 2010 | by See all my reviews

Peter Weir's follow-up to Master & Commander (2003) is the unflinching, stark, & brilliant The Way Back, which takes on the weighty theme of man's struggle for freedom.

At the dawn of WWII, several men escape from a Russian gulag. The film details their perilous & uncertain journey to freedom, as they cross deserts, mountains, & several nations.

The cast is a clever mix of seasoned pros & relative newcomers. Ed Harris, in the role of the sole American, lends his usual gravitas. Colin Farrell borrows from his In Bruges character, but the addition of bad jailhouse tattoos is wildly amusing, & his Russian is quite passable. It's always nice to see Mister Farrell doing serious work, rather than bland fluff like Miami Vice or SWAT. Mark Strong's brief, but plot-essential appearance is joyous.

Jim Sturgess gets a chance to redeem himself from the disastrous flop 21, & does a fine job here, as the central character. & the adolescent Saoirse Ronan belies her extensive & impressive resume with an understated performance that sparkles against the men's terse asperity.

Breathtaking vistas that serve as the backdrop to the cast's efforts lend The Way Back an epic feel, echoed by mature editing, & mavellously restrained use of music.

This is, quite possibly, the most serious film Peter Weir has ever directed, & the result is both thought-provoking & inspiring. We can only hope that it gets a proper release, & is allowed an opportunity to reach its grown-up audience.

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