The Way Back

January 21st, 2011

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The Way Back

The Way BackThe Way BackSaoirse Ronan at event of The Way BackStill of Colin Farrell and Jim Sturgess in The Way BackStill of Ed Harris, Colin Farrell and Jim Sturgess in The Way BackStill of Saoirse Ronan in The Way Back

Siberian gulag escapees walk 4000 miles overland to freedom in India.

Release Year: 2010

Rating: 7.3/10 (33,052 voted)

Critic's Score: 66/100

Director: Peter Weir

Stars: Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris, Colin Farrell

In 1941, three men reach India from Tibet, having walked 4000 miles after escaping a Siberian gulag. The film tells their story and that of four others who escaped with them and a teenage girl who joins them in flight. The group's natural leader is Janusz, a Pole condemned by accusations secured by torturing his wife; he knows how to live in the wilds. They escape under cover of a snowstorm: a cynical American, a Russian thug, a comic accountant, a pastry chef who draws, a priest, and a Pole with night blindness. They face freezing nights, lack of food and water, mosquitoes, an endless desert, the Himalayas, and moral questions of when to leave someone behind.

Writers: Peter Weir, Keith R. Clarke

Colin Farrell - Valka
Mark Strong - Khabarov
Saoirse Ronan - Irena
Jim Sturgess - Janusz
Ed Harris - Mr. Smith
Gustaf Skarsgård - Voss (as Hustaf Skarsgard)
Alexandru Potocean - Tomasz
Sebastian Urzendowsky - Kazik
Dragos Bucur - Zoran
Zahary Baharov - Interrogator (as Zahari Baharov)
Sally Edwards - Janusz's Wife, 1939
Igor Gnezdilov - Bohdan
Dejan Angelov - Andrei
Stanislav Pishtalov - Commandant
Mariy Grigorov - Lazar (as Marii Grigorov)

Taglines: Their escape was just the beginning


Official Website: Official site | Official site [France] |

Release Date: 21 January 2011

Filming Locations: Darjeeling, West Bengal, India

Opening Weekend: £1,327,650 (UK) (2 January 2011) (254 Screens)

Gross: $2,636,950 (USA) (13 February 2011)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

When Janusz and the others spot the tattoo of Lenin and Stalin on Valka's chest, he angrily replies that they were great men. Such tattoos were in fact employed by criminals in the false hope that they wouldn't be shot there as it was supposed to be illegal to deface an image of either Lenin or Stalin; although it is well-known that the executions were conducted via shooting in the back of the head.

Errors in geography: In one of the frames, which captures the journey of the characters towards south while in Mongolia, the backdrop is that of a setting sun and the characters are shown moving from right to left of the frame (screen), which means they are moving towards north and not south.

[first lines]
Title Card: September, 1939 / Hitler invades Poland from the West. Several days later Stalin invades from the East. They divide the country between them.

User Review

Peter Weir goes from ocean to desert

Rating: 10/10

Peter Weir's follow-up to Master & Commander (2003) is the unflinching, stark, & brilliant The Way Back, which takes on the weighty theme of man's struggle for freedom.

At the dawn of WWII, several men escape from a Russian gulag. The film details their perilous & uncertain journey to freedom, as they cross deserts, mountains, & several nations.

The cast is a clever mix of seasoned pros & relative newcomers. Ed Harris, in the role of the sole American, lends his usual gravitas. Colin Farrell borrows from his In Bruges character, but the addition of bad jailhouse tattoos is wildly amusing, & his Russian is quite passable. It's always nice to see Mister Farrell doing serious work, rather than bland fluff like Miami Vice or SWAT. Mark Strong's brief, but plot-essential appearance is joyous.

Jim Sturgess gets a chance to redeem himself from the disastrous flop 21, & does a fine job here, as the central character. & the adolescent Saoirse Ronan belies her extensive & impressive resume with an understated performance that sparkles against the men's terse asperity.

Breathtaking vistas that serve as the backdrop to the cast's efforts lend The Way Back an epic feel, echoed by mature editing, & mavellously restrained use of music.

This is, quite possibly, the most serious film Peter Weir has ever directed, & the result is both thought-provoking & inspiring. We can only hope that it gets a proper release, & is allowed an opportunity to reach its grown-up audience.

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