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
<email@example.com>, Shahob, Bellingham, WA, US
The film is inspired by the memoir of 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 »
The original plan is to escape to Mongolia, but they discover it has a Communist government. But this government had been ruling since 1924. It is unlikely that not one of the escape party would have known this. 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.
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