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The Way Back (2010)

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Siberian gulag escapees travel 4,000 miles by foot to freedom in India.

Director:

Peter Weir

Writers:

Slavomir Rawicz (novel), Peter Weir (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
1,959 ( 80)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Dragos Bucur ... Zoran
Colin Farrell ... Valka
Ed Harris ... Mr. Smith
Alexandru Potocean ... Tomasz
Saoirse Ronan ... Irena
Mark Strong ... Khabarov
Gustaf Skarsgård ... Voss
Jim Sturgess ... Janusz
Sebastian Urzendowsky ... Kazik
Zachary Baharov ... Interrogator (as Zahari Baharov)
Sally Brunski Sally Brunski ... Janusz's Wife, 1939 (as Sally Edwards)
Igor Gnezdilov Igor Gnezdilov ... Bohdan
Dejan Angelov Dejan Angelov ... Andrei
Stanislav Pishtalov Stanislav Pishtalov ... Commandant
Mariy Rosen ... Lazar (as Marii Grigorov)
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Storyline

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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>, Shahob, Bellingham, WA, US

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

oasis | gulag | desert | priest | india | See All (83) »

Taglines:

Their escape was just the beginning


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violent content, depiction of physical hardships, a nude image and brief strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Language:

Tibetan | Mongolian | English | Russian | Polish

Release Date:

21 January 2011 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Way Back See more »

Filming Locations:

Morocco See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,218,868, 23 January 2011

Gross USA:

$2,701,859

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$24,172,201
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

[first lines]
[in Polish, using English subtitles]
Interrogator: [presents pen to sign confession]
Janusz: No.
Interrogator: Bring in the witness.
Janusz's Wife, 1939: [brought in]
Interrogator: Do you know this man? His name?
Janusz's Wife, 1939: Janusz Wieszczek.
Interrogator: Witness, what's your relationship with this man?
Janusz's Wife, 1939: [crying] I am his wife.
[...]
See more »

Connections

Featured in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #1.1 (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Tibet
Written by Burkhard Dallwitz
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
When Irish actors go all Polski
2 January 2011 | by ecstatic-tickleSee all my reviews

Peter Weir's first film in seven years is another exercise in sturdy direction with strong social themes running through it - recalling many of his previous works in style and content. It follows a group of escaped prisoners from a Siberian gulag in 1940 as they brave the treacherous wilderness of Asia for freedom from the Soviet regime. It's tough viewing for the most part but there is a surprising amount of comic relief along the way, provided chiefly by Colin Farrell's salty character. The group scavenge for food, even fighting off wolves for the carcass of an animal at one point - but the constant bickering and relentless doom and gloom does begin to wear. The film picks up however once Saoirse Ronan enters the picture and her youthful feminine presence brings an interesting dynamic. Emoting with a flawless Polish accent (almost like a mini-Streep) her character is one of the more compelling and layered and gives this emerging young actress a chance to display her skills. The cinematography is serviceable but hardly spectacular - capturing a harsh, arid landscape as opposed to Malick-like celebration of nature.

As the film wears on, the struggle to survive intensifies, particular when they reach the Ghobi desert - the scenes are very well done but viewing becomes quite grueling. Harris bring a certain integrity to his role in a rather unshowy performance with not much character introspection (I can see why his Oscar buzz has disappeared). In fact character development across the board is quite lacking, and watching the plot unfold, with the knowledge of the outcome of the story already provided in the opening titles - the narrative becomes quite arbitrary and the story doesn't always sustain interest. The final leg of the journey through the Himalayas almost seems rushed compared to the bloated second act. Still, it's a very well-made film with good acting and visuals - just don't expect to be inspired.


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