Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Way Back

In 1941, seven men escaped from a Siberian gulag and made the arduous trek across 4,000 miles of varying, unforgiving terrain. From the treacherous freezing cold of Russia, into Mongolia and the Gobi Desert, and through Tibet, while not only battling the elements but also themselves, three of the men eventually crossed over the Himalayas into India and freedom. The Way Back is the incredible and likely exaggerated story of perseverance brought to the screen by the great Australian director Peter Weir. Weir has a knack for envisioning expansive movies and translating them to the screen, and he succeeds here again crafting a beautifully shot film made on many different locations. Some critics panned this film for being boring, showing only a long arduous journey, but I found it to be intriguing. The story alone holds an inherent fascination and Weir does a wonderful job of evoking that. The film stars Jim Sturgess as one of the wrongly persecuted escapees, and he is another in a line of bland young actors who shouldn't be in films. He's not terrible, but he's just not interesting. Thankfully he's surrounding by the always surehanded Ed Harris who plays an American prisoner, Colin Farrell who plays a cutthroat loyalist prisoner, and Saoirse Ronan who plays a young girl who joins the gang along the way. The Way Back is a great example of how to translate a large expansive potentially boring story into a successful entertaining movie.