Jan 29, 2012

The way back, 2010

The way back, 2010
Director: Peter Weir
Cast: Ed Harris, Colin Farrel, Jim Sturgess

Stage: desktop theatre in a nice hotel room in Sarajevo

The way back in short: In 1941, three men reach India from Tibet, having walked 4000 miles after 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; he knows how to live in the wilds. They escape under cover of a snowstorm: a cynical American, a Russian thug, a comic 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, and moral questions of when to leave someone behind.

just a good recomendation, I am not aware of the content nor the cast. Therefore a lot of expectations, I give a lot to this person's opinion.

Reality: Hm. a true story indeed. If you aren't under sheets or somewhere warm, you will get cold in the first 20 minutes. Siberian gulags are places like german lagers in the WW2. Not a place you would want to be in, nor the place you could imagine to survive. There are many thoughts in my mind while watching the beginning of the movie, especially means of surviving in those conditions as those men fought against.
Stalin made sure he had the workforce, namely people that were tagged as the enemies of the system, country, its people (pick your favourite) and put into so called gulags. Treated as animals, without food, conditions to live in, at approximately 40 degrees minus, well, a treat truly. Plus, these were working troops, they built several tunnels for the russians, catered the wood, chopped down forests, made railroads.. a free workforce, you might think of them this way. Most of them were taken because a plain thing they did (and it caused their conspiracy to the mother Russia), even though in some cases it was a plain example of a person taking a photo, or someone just looking at an institution. Before put into those starvation cabins, they were tortured (or their families) until they "admitted" they caused some crimes.
In any case, a truly sad and honest story about gulags, in the first third of the movie. To be honest, the movie isn't about gulags at all. It is about surviving. Some men jump out of their fence and escape. Their enemy, as their watchers so vividly express in the beginning, isn't the dogs or the guardians, it is the nature. Surviving in these conditions, having 1000 km of plain forest and snow in front of them, this is the challenge they are facing. And it's not a light challenge. In my opinion, the movie doesn't really show the way how they survived. I doubt I would be able to survive one single night without freezing to death. Therefore I was interested in what the director might show me. And was dissappointed, because they just skipped the part. The same thing happens at the end. Skipping the long walk through Himalayas. What did Weird think when skipping this part? It would add some content to the whole and it would add credibility. Luckily they didn't touch the long walk through Mongolia, which is as hard as the walk through Sibiria. There they made me a believer again.

The main topic in my opinion touches the frames of one's will to survive. If you want something badly enough, you will get to that point, in this sense, India and reunion with the wife you left behind. There will be casualties, but we are looking at the main character, brilliantly played, who took this long journey. I admire the cast of Mr. Smith (the American)- Ed Harris, that comes all the way to Tibet and stays there. Beautiful. Plus, the connection he makes with the woman, astounding.

There is no way many people could have survived, barefoot in the sand and snow. The power of will is magnificent. And this piece shows it directly, in the bloodstream. It will make you admire the will to live and the will to survive.

My personal rate: 8,0
(remarkable piece on how to live because you really really want to).

The way back on IMDB

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