Monday, May 30, 2011
The Way Back
The Way Back is based on the book, The Long Walk, by Slawormir Rawicz, who was a Polish POW in the Soviet Gulag during World War II. The film is based on his experiences when he escaped from prison and journeyed a 4,000 mile trek to freedom.
Along the way, they encounter, Irena (Saoirse Ronan), a Polish girl who escaped from a forced farm collective and joins their trek to freedom. Her presence adds a touch of humanity that will be necessary to finish the journey. Without giving away too much of the story, the original destination was Mongolia, but circumstances forced the group to track south across deserts and the heights of the Himalayans to seek refuge in British controlled India.
But what really drives The Way Back is the portrayal of Mr. Smith by Ed Harris. Why is an American in a Soviet Gulag in Siberia? Mr. Smith is a man tormented by his past and must overcome his own demons to find his humanity. What is his story? Ed Harris is sensational. He always finds a way to lose himself in the character. Harris always puts everything into his acting, and it clearly shows. The film features an international cast of actors who also bring their A game, including Colin Farrell and Saoirse Ronan from Ireland, Gustof Skarsgärd from Germany, Alexandru Potecean and Dragos Bucur from Bulgaria. The acting creates an authentic feel and presence of what Soviet Russia would have felt like in the 1940s. Director Peter Weir went the extra mile for authenticity by erecting a full-scale prison camp. The actors were required to endure harsh conditions to add to the realism of the story.
The Way Back is an excellent movie. It was exquisitely done and is an inspiration to the human spirit. We might all think we have incredible obstacles and difficulties to face. but The Way Back has a way of putting things in perspective. After viewing this movie, we will all be thankful for the freedom we enjoy.
The Way Back is currently available on DVD and Blu-ray.