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 »
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 »
This film tells two stories. The literal one involves a group of Gulag escapees that cross the whole Eurasian continent in order to escape from Russian oppression.
The scenery is amazing, the acting is solid, but, as it has already been noted in other reviews, the action isn't driven by dialogue. At first glance it could seem that some of the characters lack depth, it could seem that the supporting characters lack complexity and history that is so needed for emotional attachment.
But to achieve full understanding of the film, some knowledge of the history of Europe is mandatory. When the metaphor provided by the literal storyline is understood, the characters light up in a completely different light. Suddenly the unrealistically long and hazardous trip takes the revealing shape of the 50-year-long European genocide, repressions, suffering and struggle for independence; a struggle that has been wrongfully forgotten by many in the West.
Thank you for telling our story.
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