The Way Back
Of course, if we paused and though about it for a second or two, those words would set off alarm bells in our cynical minds. Inspired by? How much of this story is actually true?
Well that’s a question that is hard to answer, but if we believe that the essential backbone to the story is true, and we wouldn’t be watching this DVD if we didn’t, then the elements of fluff, the hollywood style entertainment are like the spoonful of sugar; it helps the medicine go down. Or in this case, it takes what could have been an interesting but ultimately not entertaining documentary, and turns it into a gripping, emotionally unrelenting tale of horror, despair, hope and determination.
The Way back begins right after Hitler and Stalin have agreed to divide up Poland and kick start World War II. We are introduced to Polish POW Janusz, essentially the star of the story, as he is being interrogated and sentenced to 20 years of hard labour in the Gulag. Director Peter Weir never tries to explain the reasoning as to why so many people were sent to the Gulags, and this is a wise decision, as there is in reality no real solid reason. What Weir does do is show the inhumanity of the Gulags and the inhospitable terrain of the Siberian winter. It’s the 4 million square miles of hostile Siberian terrain that is the real prison the new arrivals are told.
Once at the Gulag Janusz meets a number of different people, and ultimately hatches up a plan of escape, taking a mixed bunch of prisoners with him. From this point on it’s a tale of survival that is surprisingly gripping and emotional.
To say anymore of the story-line would spoil the experience. It’s the characters that make the story interesting, and their plight in this tale of survival and death, make this incredible journey a worthwhile watch.
From the soul destroying Gulag to the heights of ecstasy, The Way Back is a journey that is not only a visual feast, but and experience that will stay with you for along time after the DVD has been put back in it’s case.
Reviewed by: Jonathan