Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The Way Back

Watching over the "enemies" of the people.
Monday night’s film was the reconstruction of a road trip, albeit on foot, starting in Siberia and ending in India, a journey described by Polish exile Slavomir Rawicz in his “memoir” The Long Walk written in 1953. The journey takes place over a 12-month period and tells how he and some fellow prisoners escaped from a Siberian Gulag prison camp in 1940 during World War Two and trekked 4000 miles to freedom via Mongolia, the Gobi Desert, Tibet and across the Himalayas into India. Although the authenticity of his story has been cast into doubt by some recent research, Rawicz was released under an amnesty in 1942 and rejoined the Polish army.  It has been suggested that someone must have completed the journey even if it was not the author of the book.

If these barrows get any bigger?
The Way Back (2010) Peter Weir’s first film since Master and Commander (2003) is far too long, it requires a harsher edit! The first 40 minutes in the camp and the initial part of their journey are the strongest and most thrilling segments. Weir’s film changed pace when the services of the gangster escapee Valka, superbly played by Colin Farrell, departed at the Russian-Mongolian border. The group was joined by a young female refugee for no other reason (as far as I could see) than to extend the narrative ploy to give our one-dimensional characters some back-story. Once the travelers reached the desert the film descended into predictability and petered out with a typical American anticlimactic ending. 

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