The Way Back (2010) is a long sad excruciating film about six men who escape a Soviet gulag and traverse the harsh Siberian wilderness for months on foot in their quest for freedom. It is based on a book written in 1956 by former Polish prisoner of war Sławomir Rawicz. Some say that it is not an entirely true story. But it is still an incredible story of survival displaying the perseverance of the human spirit, which is not easily subdued.
When Janusz Wieszczek(the lead character played excellently by Jim Sturgess) finds himself on his way to the gulag separated from his wife and his former life because of his political views not for any particular crimes, it would appear that all hope was lost. But Janusz never gave up hope. He had an inner drive. A dream deep within his heart to reunite with his family once again and escape the terrible conditions of the prison camp.
One of the other inmates that he came across had an interesting role in the story. He was a plotter. One who would plot an escape in detail with new inmates but would not follow through with the plan at the crucial moment. When I saw this character it reminded me of so many people that I know today who dream so big and really want to change their lives and change the way of the world, but when it comes down to actually taking the physical actions required to create those changes, nine times out of ten, they will back down. Very few are willing to take the monumental effort that is required to gain our freedom, and overcome the oppressors of this world. So this character had a very symbolic role to play, displaying one who is without courage, and is completely unreliable in vital situations.
Another interesting but dangerous character in the film was a criminal prisoner. These guys had a lot of muscle in the gulags. They were given privileges and even the right to kill other inmates. Being used like assassins and enforcers from within against the political prisoners.
Overall, this movie was quite remarkable. The cinematography and natural landscapes were breathtaking. The acting, passion and drive felt was powerful. The glimpse into the white hell that were the Siberian gulags was quite unsettling. The inner longing for freedom and survival depicted is something that I think we can all relate to… And something that I think we all need to be vigilant against is a tyrannical socialist overthrow of our own governments today, wherever we may be in the world…
How far are you willing to go to attain your freedom?