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
When told he should be grateful, Valka says: "Gratitude is for dogs!" Stalin said a very similar thing: "Gratitude is a sickness suffered by dogs." 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 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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