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Drama - Survival

The Way Back (2010)

Duration2h 13m
RatingsUK: 12A, USA: PG-13, 
Source of storySaid to have been inspired by a “novel” by Slavomir Rawicz
DirectorPeter Weir
Writers/ScriptPeter Weir, Keith R. Clarke
StarringColin Farrell, Ed Harris, Saoirse Ronan, Mark Strong, Jim Sturgess, 
RatingsIMDb: 7.3 by 110,473.  Rotten Tomatoes: 74% by 139 critics.

Elevator Pitch: In 1941 in a Siberian Gulag a young prisoner proposes that some of them might be able to escape in the right conditions, and so others join and on the night of a blizzard they are able to make a hole in the wire and start on their epic journey to the south. They intend to walk out of Russia, via Lake Baikal in to Mongolia and then onwards into India. It is 4000 miles. The group suffer the loss of one of their number on the first night as one freezes to death. There after their number s are gradually reduced for a variety of reasons, and increased by one, a young woman who joins them but she does not last until the end.

Content: Very little sexual imagery apart from some suggestive drawings. Some scenes with a bit of violence in the gulag as the prisoners are engaged in field work. Once on the move south the group trudge along in all sorts of conditions. Frozen forests, then more tolerable conditions around the lake, and onwards into the desert where they almost die of thirst, and the girl does die. Then into the Himalayas, finally emerging into a tea plantation in India.

A View: Despite the fact that this film seems to have been well thought of my both the IMDb public and the Rotten Tomatoes critics it seems to have lost money on quite a moderate budget. All you can say really is that it goes on a bit. All the trekkers seem to get on well, even the ex Russian Mafia thug and when they allow a fifteen year old girl to join them, they are unbelievably respectful of her. So there is little tension, and we know that some of them make it. The extraordinary vistas probably make it a watch for nothing.

Additional Info: It turns out that Slavomir Rawicz was released from the gulag in 1941, so he did not do the walk, and another claimant in 2006 also did not do it, but there is evidence that someone did it. Hearsay of an interview by UK Intelligence in the 1940s of three emaciated guys in Calcutta.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels

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