THE WAY BACK
A Powerful, Unforgettable Journey to Freedom
Starring: Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris, Colin
Farrell, Saoirse Ronan, Mark
Strong, Gustaf Skarsgård,
Alexandru Potocean, Sebastian
Urzendowsky, Dragos Bucur
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 133 minutes
Distributor: Newmarket Films/Exclusive
Director: Peter Weir
Executive Producer: Scott Rudin, Keith Clarke,
John Ptak, Guy East, Simon
Oakes, Tobin Armbrust, Jake
Eberts, Edward Borgerding,
Mohammed Khalaf, Adam Leipzig,
Producer: Peter Weir, Duncan Henderson,
Joni Levin, Keith Levin, Nigel
Writer: Peter Weir
Address Comments To:Nigel Sinclair, CEO/Co-Chairman
Guy East, Co-Chairman
Exclusive Media Group (EMG) (Newmarket Films/Hammer Films/Spitfire Pictures)
9348 Civic Center Drive, Mezzanine
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Phone: 310-300-9000 and (310) 858-7472; Fax: (310) 858-7473
Websites: www.exclusivemedia.com and www. newmarketfilms.com
The movie opens in 1940 Russia with the wife of a Polish army man named Janusz betraying him after Soviet Communist thugs beat a confession against him out of her. The Communists stick Janusz in a freezing Siberian prison created by the old Russian tsars but expanded by the vicious Communist dictators Lenin and Stalin.
There, Janusz discovers a possible way out of the prison camp from a prisoner who used to be an actor. The Communists imprisoned the actor after he merely played an aristocrat in a movie!
The actor is a talker, not a doer, however. So, after saving some food and clothing, Janusz walks out of the prison in an intense snowstorm. Janusz is an excellent woodsman. He desperately wants to find his wife so he can forgive her and free her from Communist tyranny.
Janusz teams up with a mysterious American calling himself Mr. Smith and a violent Russian criminal, who has a knife with which he stabbed another prisoner. They follow Janusz as he leads the way out of the camp. The three men are astonished to find four other men following them out of the prison and into the woods.
Sadly, the youngest man, suffering from blindness because of poor nutrition, dies when he gets lost in the forest while searching for wood. In the morning, the other men find him just yards away, frozen to death.
The six remaining men make their way south to a large lake adjacent to the Trans-Siberian railroad that marks the Soviet border. What happens when they cross the border, pick up a teenage Polish girl also escaped from the Communists and walk thousands of miles through China makes for an absolutely riveting, at times heartbreaking but ultimately triumphant and redemptive story, one of the best movies you may see this year, or any other year, for that matter.
THE WAY BACK is brilliantly, forcefully, deftly directed by Peter Weir, director of such classics as THE LAST WAVE, WITNESS (No. 57 on Movieguide®’s Top 100 List), THE TRUMAN SHOW (Movieguide® winner), MASTER AND COMMANDER (Movieguide® winner), and GALLIPOLI. It’s also superbly acted by the whole cast, including veteran Ed Harris as the American, relative newcomer Jim Sturgess as Janusz, Colin Farrell as the Russian criminal, and young Saoirse Ronan as the teenage girl the men help, who becomes like a daughter to the American.
THE WAY BACK has a very strong Anti-Communist worldview that’s rooted in the overt Christian faith of most of the men. In fact, one of the men is a priest who suffers guilt because, out of revenge, he killed a young Communist guard one night at his church, which the Communists had brutally destroyed. Throughout the long journey, including the last scene, however, there are multiple, positive references to Jesus Christ and Christianity. There are also many heartwarming scenes of deep human compassion, despite some rough content showing the harsh conditions the men face, strong foul language and images of people dead, dying or almost dying. Finally, the movie skillfully uses newsreel footage of Soviet Communist oppression to give historical context to the story. With this movie, Weir clearly proves he truly is one of the greatest movie directors we currently have.
All in all, THE WAY BACK is a powerful, soul-stirring, penetrating, sweeping, visceral, inspiring, astonishing, unforgettable, and shimmering work of art. It would be almost impossible not to be extremely moved and uplifted by this impressive movie and astonishing journey. Unless, of course, you like Communism and dislike Christian liberty.
Be that as it may, the movie does contain five obscenities, including two “f” words. Also, two scenes show prisoners looking at drawings of nude women, and one convict belonging to a Russian gang makes a lewd reference. Finally, there are images of violence and of people dead, dying or almost dying, but nothing really graphic.
THE WAY BACK is brilliantly, forcefully, deftly directed by Peter Weir, director of at least three Movieguide® winners. This movie may be the fourth. Best of all, THE WAY BACK has a very strong Anti-Communist worldview rooted in the overt Christian faith of most of the men. Note that, there is very brief lewd content and images of violence and death, however, so caution is advised. However, THE WAY BACK is a powerful, soul-stirring, penetrating, sweeping, visceral, inspiring, astonishing, unforgettable, and shimmering masterpiece.