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
Renowned historian Anne Applebaum, who won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction for "GULAG: A history"(2003), worked as a historical consultant on this movie. She said about the historical accuracy: "I read the script a couple of times. I know that other people read the script as well. He [director and co-writer Peter Weir] sent it to another historian at Stanford and he sent it to a couple of the survivors whose names I'd given him. And I have to say I thought the result was superb. You know, there may be little licenses you have to take in order to convey to an audience that doesn't know the story, what's going on. Sometimes the guards say things they might not have said because they are explaining things to the audience. But given that he needed to do things like that, I think it's extraordinary. It's amazingly real. You understand exactly how claustrophobic it was. Many of the incidents that you see in the movie come from real stories or come from gulag survivor and writer Varlam Shalamov or come from other gulag writers. I can see them almost exactly. I think it's an extremely well-done film and about as true-to-life as you could make a movie." 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 »
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.
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