Thursday, February 10, 2011

"The Way Back" (film)

Went to the matinee performance of this Gulag-based orienteering film this afternoon. It's WW2 and a bunch of political prisoners in Siberia, a few hundred kilometres north of Lake Baikal escape and head south. One of their number is a convict who brings the vital resources of a knife plus murderous resourcefulness.

To cut a long story short, they make their way from the camp past the lake to the Mongolian border. To their horror, they discover that Mongolia is also communist so they keep going to Tibet. Shedding people as they go (death by cold in the Siberian forests; death by thirst in the Mongolian desert) plus the odd defection or two, the diminished company finally makes it to India and freedom.

There is a contrived storyline whereby the leader, a Polish idealist, is betrayed by his wife in the opening scene, following her torture, and is impelled to find her again and forgive her ... which he does decades later after the fall of communism as the final credits roll. There isn't a damp eye in the house.

So, great film if you like to watch an ecologically-unconvincing saga of human fortitude. Or if you like to empathise with people trekking for months through unforgiving terrain without food, water, tents or essential equipment.

Puts the trials and tribulations of Glastonbury in their place.