In 1941, three men attempt to flee communist Russia, escaping a Siberian gulag. This movie tells their story and that of four others who escaped with them and a teenage girl, Irena Zielinska (Saoirse Ronan), who joins them in flight. The group's natural leader is Janusz Weiszczek (Jim Sturgess), 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: cynical American Mr. Smith (Ed Harris), Russian thug Valka (Colin Farrell), comedic accountant Zoran (Dragos Bucur), pastry chef Tomasz Horodinsky (Alexandru Potocean), who draws, Priest Andrejs Voss (Gustav Skarsgård), and Polish Kazik (Sebastian Urzendowsky), who suffers from 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
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 »
This was a long film but I was unaware of the length because I was so thoroughly engrossed. The scenery and the photography were simply spell binding but more than that, this was a story about the indomitable spirit of people faced with desperate odds told with sensitivity and at times, humour. Others have commented on the quality of the acting, the accuracy of the story and the cinema-photography; I want to comment on a different aspect of the film. We hear and see a great deal about the crimes of the Nazis during this period but very little about the crimes of the Soviet system. This film is not a "dull metaphor" of the Cold War as one reviewer has said If this films sparks a little enquiry amongst its audiences it will have done a great service to the memory of Poles and other eastern Europeans who suffered the double tragedy of Nazi and then Communist occupation. When Nazism was defeated in 1945, half of Europe was just beginning a sentence in Communist bondage that was to last another thirty five years. This aspect of the story is all the more effective because it is told through the eyes of a small group of people and at a personal level. At the end of this film, the entire audience sat still for about fifteen seconds. There was not the usual end of film scrum. People just needed a moment to absorb what they had sen. This was the best film of the year!
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