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Way Back [Blu-ray] [2010] [US Import]

3.9 out of 5 stars 213 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Image/Sphe
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (213 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004C45AX2
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 322,787 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Four-time Oscar nominee Ed Harris (Apollo 13), Jim Sturgess (Across the Universe) and Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan (Atonement) and Colin Farrell (In Bruges) star in this epic saga of survival from six-time Oscar-nominee Peter Weir (Witness, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World). Inspired by an incredible true story, THE WAY BACK begins in 1940 when seven prisoners attempt the impossible: escape from a brutal Siberian gulag. Thus begins a treacherous 4,500-mile trek to freedom across the world's most merciless landscapes. They have little food and few supplies. They don't know or trust each other. But together, they must withstand nature at its most extreme. Their humanity is further tested when they meet a teenage runaway who begs to join them on their quest.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Many years ago I travelled by train along a stretch of the Trans-Siberian Railway from Novosibirsk to Irkutsk on the southern shore of Lake Baykal not long after reading Slavomir Rawicz's book "The Long Walk" and I vividly remember that Siberia was a region of endless space, where there were no signs of human habitation for hours on end and vast dense pine forests stretched from horizon to horizon for hundreds of miles. I tried to picture what it must have been like for a small party of people with hardly any food or suitable clothing walking across this region for months on end in the middle of winter in temperatures up to minus 30 degrees below zero and then walking through the scorching heat of the Gobi Desert and climbing over the huge peaks of the Himalayas. It is scarcely comprehensible that a few men did manage to escape this way from Russia's Gulags and eventually reach freedom.

Peter Weir's magnificent, enthralling and moving film tells the story of a group of prisoners from a Russian prison camp north of Lake Baykal who escaped and walked south for 4,000 miles across Siberia, Mongolia, China and Tibet and the survivors of the journey eventually reached India.

The authenticity of Rawicz's account has been widely questioned but there is no doubt that a few Poles and others did manage to escape and reach freedom in this way and some joined the free Polish forces and fought against the German's who ironically were fighting the Russians.

It was these same Russians who had condemned thousands of Poles and others to long stretches in the Gulags on trumped up charges and when the Germans invaded Russia in June 1941, it suited the Russians to release many Poles from the camps to fight alongside them against the Nazis.
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'The Long Walk', first published in 1956, is a gripping account of a Polish officer's imprisonment in the Soviet gulag in 1940, his escape and then a trek of 4,000 miles (6,437km) from Siberia to India, surviving unimaginable hardships along the way, testing the seven men and their companion, a seventeen year old girl they came across on the way, to the limits. Its dramatic passages tell of extremes of exhaustion, starvation and thirst as they survived snowdrifts and storms and even the pitiless Gobi Desert.
There is a controversy as to who actually made the journey, however, Australian director Peter Weir, celebrated for contemporary classics such as `Dead Poets Society' and `The Truman Show', decided the account deserved filming. "As a feat of endurance and courage and the tenacity of human beings to survive, I thought it was superb. It's about the struggle that all of us have to survive every day. The struggle is on an epic scale, but survival is at the heart of it, and what keeps you going with all the difficulties and pain of life and the bad luck. As a director, I asked, `Does it stay with you enough to want to pursue it as a film?' And this was the case."
"I hope `The Long Walk' will remain as a memorial to all those who live and die for freedom, and for all those who for many reasons could not speak for themselves."(Slavomir Rawicz)
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By Charles Vasey TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 Dec. 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a film about endurance in pretty dismal circumstances so if you are seeking laughs, thrills or excitement then you are going to be sorely disappointed. Escaping from a Soviet Gulag the heroes of this piece have to march through taiga, desert, mountain and just about everything in between; and they do so not by ingenious device or cunning plan but by putting one foot in front of the other for 4000 miles. I found it a stirring tale but then I liked moor-running at School so am probably deranged.

There has been some excitement about whether the story is true (it is based on Slavomir Rawicz's book): it didn't seem necessary to me that it was or was not true, but be warned if this does matter to you you may want to consider before watching. There is also some concern (sometimes by the same critics) that the central role is not more charismatic. This is however a film about walking which is of its very nature a slow and steady form of movement. It does not require a John Rambo or James Bond.
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Format: DVD
Weir makes no claims to this story - about escapees from a Siberian gulag, and their 4,000-mile trek over the Himalayas - being true as he tells it. So it's fitting that the chameleonic craftsman has created something almost entirely unambiguous: none of Master and Commander's moral tug-of-war; none of the fable-like metaphor of The Truman Show; none of the ghostly near-surrealism of Picnic at Hanging Rock.

The performances are very fine across the board. Farrell (as violent gang-leader Valka) and Harris (as the grizzled American Mr Smith) stand out particularly. Like Robert Duvall or Michael Caine, Harris has developed a face marked with history, etched by happiness and hardship. Like all the players, they enjoy a solid, unfussy script, and hurl themselves into native tongue with admirable vigour.

My main issue with the film is probably lying on the cutting room floor. The work of Terrence Malick, John Hillcoat, Andrew Dominik et al shows that there are fine visionary, worldly, painterly directors out there producing work that is both crowd-pleasing and patient. The quality and relevance of the scenes in The Way Back are not in question - so why do so many of them feel truncated, and so hurried? For the escape itself to burst out of nothing makes sense as this could be argued to mirror the sudden confusion of the escapees and the guards. But too many sequences thereafter feel cursory, silencing their own reverberations. Too many shots of the vastness of this chilly hemisphere are all too brief, stealing away that vital sense of dismal isolation.

Perhaps this was intentional. Perhaps Weir wanted to focus on the brutal close-up, rather than the romantic long shot. But if this is at the expense of the expanse, then I feel it does a disservice to the magnificence of the 4,000-mile task, and we're left with something that feels just a bit too small.
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