The Way Back, an epic dramatic film directed by Australia’s Peter Weir, was released in 2010. The film was inspired by The Long Walk (1956), a memoir by a former Polish Prisoner of War, who escaped from a Soviet Gulag and walked 4,000 miles (yes miles not kilometres) to freedom during World War 11.
What was it about the film that absorbed me? Firstly, the story is so improbable considering the extreme climate and environment over which the walk took place – yet it happened. Secondly, the acting was first class, made the story plausible so that I believed every bit of each challenge faced in the Gulag and then on the long southward trek through wilderness and deserts. I knew previous work of some of the actors, but others were completely unknown to me: Jim Sturgess, Colin Farrell, Ed Harris, Saoirse Ronan, Alexandru Potocean, Sebastian Urzendowsky, Gustaf Skarsgard, Drago Bucur and Mark Strong.
Overall, the details of and the panoramic views of landscape were enthralling and breathtaking in their scope and richness. I found myself using Google maps to understand the route past Lake Baikal, into Mongolia and across to Tibet, then over the Himalayas into India. Extraordinary achievement.
If you watch the trailer at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1023114/, I believe the sensational music and the movie excerpts are not in the spirit of the big spaces and the big decisions faced by the walkers. The power of the dialogue and its pacing is lost. Seeing the whole movie gives a completely different perspective. What I have been left with after seeing the movie, is an unshakeable faith that there are people who have an important goal and will do anything to achieve it. Quite wonderful!
I haven’t seen the film, but I’ve read the book. I’ll have to find time to watch it.
I haven’t read the book and so I had nothing to compare the film’s story with. I imagine when reading the book you would create your own visuals for the landscape and so the film’s visuals will be a surprise – hopefully you will feel they are majestic like I did.
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