In 1941, three men attempt to flee communist Russia, 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, spent much of his youth outdoors, and knows how to live in the wild. They escape under cover of a snowstorm: a cynical American, a Russian thug, a comedic 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, as well as many moral and ethical dilemmas throughout the journey towards freedom. Written by
<firstname.lastname@example.org>, Shahob, Bellingham, WA, US
Director and co-writer Peter Weir included the experiences of French adventurer Cyril Delafosse-Guiramand, who did the walk described in Slavomir Rawicz's book. He became a technical advisor for the film production. Peter Weir recollected: "...Cyril Delafosse-Guiramand, late 30s, French. He works in the IT industry but his hobby is walking. He was inspired by the book and sometime after 2000 he undertook the walk, so he was the first person I went to see. He was living in Laos then with his wife. So I went up there and we talked for a couple of days and I said, 'Would you advise us? I'll send you scripts.' Then I began to say, 'Can I put some of the stuff you're telling me in, like this thing about these mosquitoes? This man you met in the forest that has a bark necklace?' He said, 'Sure,' very generously so I put that in.. Then he coached the actors and then was with us every day." See more »
In Mongolia, the escapees approach an arch decorated with photos of Stalin and a Mongolian leader. When they first see the arch, there is a band of local people coming toward them, led by a person mounted on an animal (probably a horse). However, as the escapees reach the arch, the local band has disappeared. 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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