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
The film is based on a memoir by Slavomir Rawicz depicting his escape from a Siberian gulag and subsequent 4000-mile walk to freedom in India. Incredibly popular, it sold over 500,000 copies and is credited with inspiring many explorers. However, in 2006 the BBC unearthed records (including some written by Rawicz himself) that showed he had been released by the USSR in 1942. In 2009 another former Polish soldier, Witold Glinski, claimed that the book was really an account of his own escape. However this claim too has been seriously challenged. 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 »
I will never complain about going on a walk ever again!
I went with my friends to see this the other day - we picked whatever film was on soonest at the cinema. The Way Back was on...and we went in. I had no idea what the film was about only that I'd heard that "People walk out of Russia".
This film really had you captivated for the entire journey - and you really connect with the characters within it, so much so you experience their emotions with them - you laugh with them, you are on the verge of tears at moments, and you feel their determination.
The acting was great - there were some familiar faces in the likes of Jim Sturgess (21) and Ed Harris (everything else)...and they do very well in their roles. Colin Farrell finds himself taking a respectable role in a respectable film - and does a very good job at it - and even manages to work a Russian accent, which he pulls off - and he pulls it off well. Surprisingly well, actually! Saoirse Ronan, at 15/16, is incredible in this. Given her youth, she manages to draw in the audience with her character's history and gravitas. The other actors within this, despite them being relatively unknown on the Hollywood stage, join the cast well, and the chemistry is there to make the journey and the true stamina of the group believable.
The cinematography was immense, with shots overlooking parts of Russia, Mongolia, Tibet, and India - just helps you realise the vastness of the journey. Most of the journey is filmed looking closely at the characters, but this is what is crucial to the audience enjoying the story. You can't have 2hrs and 13 mins of beautiful scenery and see the intimate struggles with each of the characters...therefore the director does well to mix the two. The audience can see just what the struggles and difficulties are...but are treated to some amazing shots of the scenery, which make you realise how incredible this journey was. (I even got a map out later and routed the journey they took)
I should expect that this film would receive some Oscar nominations, maybe for cinematography, director, perhaps even best picture, but I would love to see Jim Sturgess having a nomination for his role.
135 of 169 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?