The Way Back | 2011 | PG-13 | - 3.6.5
Based on the best-selling, controversial memoir of Slavomir Rawicz, it is a retelling of the presumably true story of men that escaped from a Soviet gulag in 1940 and walked more than 4,000 miles. From the Siberian steppes and through the Gobi Desert, they eventually found freedom in India. With Dragos Bucur, Colin Farrell, Ed Harris, Alexandru Potocean, Saoirse Ronan and Mark Strong. Directed by Peter Weir. [2:13]
- A man draws suggestive pictures of women; we see a man hand another man a sketch of a nude woman bending over (we see her bare buttocks and a bare breast) and he makes a suggestive hand gesture.
► Men are seen wearing long-underwear, and a couple of men are seen shirtless as they wash themselves in a river. A man instructs another man to take off his shirt so he can shave him and the man does; we see his bare chest and back.
- A man stabs another man in the stomach, the man falls to the ground and two other men take his sweater off (we see blood on the man's hand).
► A group of men and a teenage girl walk through a desert, their faces are sunburned and scabbed, the teenage girl collapses, her feet are swollen and she dies soon thereafter. A group of men wander through a desert and they all appear sunburned (we see blisters and bloody sores on their faces and their lips are split); one man collapses to the ground, pulls off his shoe (we see his foot, which is swollen and has a bloody blister) and he later closes his eyes and dies.
► Several men are led through a blizzard by men carrying rifles, one man drops to the ground (presumably dead) and another man tells the guards that they will die if they do not seek shelter. A man hallucinates as he wanders, blinded, through a forest and is later found frozen to death. We seen approximately seven bodies huddled on frozen ground, presumably dead. Several people discover an abandoned Buddhist temple and find human skulls with obvious bullet holes in them.
► A group of men chase away a pack of wolves that's eating a bloody carcass, and then begin to eat the dead animal themselves; we see blood on the men's mouths as they eat. A deer is seen stuck in mud and struggling; we later see men carrying the dead deer and butchering it, and chunks of the bloody meat are seen cooking over a fire. Blood is seen on a man's shirt as he drops a bag filled with small dead animals, and then throws a dead rabbit in front of several men (we see a small amount of blood on the rabbit).
► A man shouts at a woman who cries and looks at another man sitting beside her, and he has a cut on his face and a smear of blood by his eye. A teenage girl tends to a bloody wound on a man's foot, wiping it with water.
► A man holds a knife to another man's neck, and then drops the knife and tells the man that other men will slit his throat because he has a high debt. A guard holds a pistol to a man's face, and the man walks away saying that if he is responsible for 200 deaths it would not be good. A man hallucinates after being forced to work in a small, dirty, mine, and a guard shoves a rifle in his face.
► Several men rush through fences, and guards follow them while shouting and releasing dogs to chase them. Guards carrying rifles escort men as they pass another group of men; some of them are shackled together and led by men holding rifles. A man instructs several men to kill a person they believe is following them, and when they surround the person they find a teenage girl and they drop their weapons.
► Several men and a teenage girl are seen walking through a desert, their faces covered in boils and sunburned, and an older man says that they will die if they do not find water. An older man, his face cracked with blisters and sunburned, tells three men that they should leave him to die. We see footage of a man and a woman struggling to get through barbed wire and tanks are driving through a crowded city street.
► Several men and a teenage girl walking through a desert start running from a massive sandstorm and they duck for cover as a wall of sand pours over them. A massive blizzard is seen, with snow flying everywhere, as men struggle to walk; one of them stops momentarily and almost gives up, but they continue. A man falls on a sheet of melting ice, another man slips and falls into the water and another man helps him up; he is unharmed.
► A man shouts at another man. A man shouts at a man and slams him against a tree, while another man breaks up their argument. An elderly man, covered in sores, begs for food from another man that shoves him away and says the man will be dead in the morning.
► A teenage girl talks about having found her parents' bodies face down in the mud, beaten with barbed wire and strangled. A teenage girl cries as she tells a man that her parents had been killed. A teenage girl talks about her parents having been imprisoned by the Soviets, and that she and her younger brother had been placed in an orphanage but her brother died. A man tells a teenage girl that he had seen two men choking a boy until his eyes popped out of his head and the man implies that he had killed the two men in revenge. We hear about people having been tortured: a man says he knew other men who had been tortured, another man says that his son had been tortured and then shot in the head and that his wife had been tortured but released. A teenage girl tells a man that an older man's son had been shot when he was 17. A man asks another man whom he would eat first among several men; the man says he would not eat any of the men. A man talks about having been asked if he would eat a human for meat. A man remarks to another man that he would have rather been shot than have to work in a mine. A man tells another man that if he did not die literally, he would die in spirit, from being in prison. A man tells another man that he will be caught and sent back to prison, and the man replies that he does not mind prison as long as he does not have to worry about being killed for his debt. A man tells three men that he will die fighting for freedom from the Germans and Russians. A man tells several men that they can steal food; another man says he is not a thief, and the first man responds he will steal food and the other man can starve. A man tells another man that if death is freedom, he should have killed himself while still in prison. A man tells several other men that if the prison does not kill them, with the wires, dogs, and guns, Mother Nature will kill them or locals will, to collect a bounty. A man tells another man that a prison is filled with murderers and thieves. A man tells several men the story of a pirate, saying that he associated with "murderers and cut throats." A man, using crude language, jokes that another man should have a tattoo of Stalin on his buttocks so he could watch him defecate. A man jokes that a snake tastes venomous as they eat it. We see written on the screen that Stalin and Hitler have invaded a series of countries from either side, capturing and imprisoning people inside.
► We see a mine; it is unsafe, dirty, dusty, loud and frequent explosions are heard and men crouch to work while rocks fall from the mine ceiling.
► A man walking through a forest looking nervous after another man tells him the sounds they are hearing are wolves howling. Several men and a teenage girl are seen swatting at mosquitoes, and their faces covered in welts and swollen from bites. A man identifies a group of men as having night blindness brought on by starvation.
- About 2 F-words and its derivatives (we see both instances as subtitles), 1 scatological term, 2 mild obscenities, name-calling (stingy and bitter, idiot, leech, crazy, less use than a dog), 3 religious exclamations.
- A man drinks from a bottle that he identifies as vodka, and a teenage girl takes a swing from a bottle of alcohol and winces. Men are seen smoking cigarettes throughout the movie.
- Communism, World War II, Russia, gulags, Siberia, Buddhism, prison life, political prisoners, torture, self-sacrifice, Germany and Poland, bonds of war, Stalin, gypsies, starvation, night blindness.
- Sometimes the mental and spiritual portion of a journey is just as hard as the physical challenges.
Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.
We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.
Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.
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