The Way Back (2010) is about Gulag Escapees

Mohan Manohar Mekap
5 min readAug 3, 2018

The Way Back released in the year 2010. It is an American movie. It is an Exclusive Film production. It is directed by Peter Weir. The screenplay is written by Weir and Keith Clarke. This movie is inspired from the novel ‘The Long Walk’ (1956).
The story:

  • It is widely accepted that this novel is in the memory of former Polish prisoner of war (PoW) Slawomir Rawicz.
  • In 1941 three men walked out of Siberian jail of erstwhile communist USSR.
  • They walked out of the Himalayas into India.
  • They had survived a 4000-mile walk for freedom.
  • It is about freedom from Communist tyrannies.
  • In September 1939, Hitler invades Poland from the west. Several days later Stalin invades from the East.
  • They divide the country Poland between them.
  • This movie is about adventure, drama and recreating history.
  • The prisoner of war in Siberia was called as Gulag and him along with his friends escaped and travel 4000 miles for freedom.

Cast overview:

  • The main casts of this movie are Jim Sturgess, Colin Farrel, Ed Harris and Saoirse Ronan, Alexandru Potocean, Sebastian Urzendowsky, Gustaf Skarsgard, Dragos Buccur, Mark Strong.
  • This movie is produced by Peter Weir, Joni Levin, Duncan Henderson, Nigel Sinclair and Scott Rudin. This movie was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Makeup.

The message is hidden in this movie:

  • This movie is all about freedom.
  • How the protagonist of this movie wants freedom at any cost.
  • Side by side how the political revolution is bad for people in general.
  • How people with good academic background had been taken to jail for no reason.
  • In the initial moment of this movie, there are war scenes like situation.
  • The Siberian Jail situation is one of worse.
  • If some inmates of the gulag labor camp of Siberian tries to protest they would be taken to the mining area.
  • That is worse for them as they had to live nearer to the blast site.
  • This means that at any point in time they would face death.
  • Even those criminal who is inside this is afraid of this as they afraid of debt which they used to play gamble with their fellow inmates.
  • The inmates would get such low vitamin food that ultimately after some days they would find themselves in the state of color blindness.
  • When Mr. Smith an American engineer, Khabarov an actor, Valka a hardened Russian criminal, Tomasz a Polish artist, a Latvian Priest Kazik, a person suffering from color blindness and Zoran the protagonist who was a Yugoslav accountant all escapes from Gulag labor camp to taste the freedom.
  • The movement within the sides of Lake Baikal is full of fear especially from guards of Soviet Prison.
  • They have very dangerous dogs with them and they had to overcome all hardships and dangers to reach out and cross erstwhile USSR (United Soviet Socialist Republic).

Passing Lake Baikal:

  • Passing Lake Baikal is full of hardships.
  • It is three prone dangers for them.
  • First, the Soviet guards who haunt them.
  • Second their treacherous dogs that ran very first.
  • Third the presence of locals who haunts them to grab the good amount of sum awarded to them.
  • The last, not the least is the presence of a high amount of snowfall within these Siberian areas.
  • They survived all from these except the person who has night blindness.
  • During these courses of the journey, we found how they eat snakes, rats to survive from this thunderous cold.
  • They even drive out jungle dogs from their food to eat that in raw.
  • Due to color blindness, Kazik lost his way while collecting wood from woods.
  • Due to the advent of night, he lost his way to the camp of inmates and lost his life during the severe snowstorm.
  • The group buries him on the way with sadness.
  • Mr. Smith the eldest person in this group told he dies in freedom.
  • This word has very meaningful significance.

Inside Mongolia:

  • After passing from Russia border, the hardened Russian criminal Tomasz stayed within there and bid farewell to the group.
  • The group thought that communism had not entered Mongolia.
  • When they see one Buddhist Monastery on the border was destroyed.
  • They knew that communism entered Mongolia.
  • This means they have to be extra careful while moving inside Mongolia.
  • In between there, they meet Irena a young Polish girl who also escaped from the Siberian gulag.
  • From here, one finds the most treacherous journey out there.
  • They move into Gobi Desert.
  • The most difficult route where the presence of water is a rarity.
  • Lack of water, sunburn, sandstorms, and blisters weakens there movement out there.
  • Irena could not tolerate all of these and eventually dies.
  • The group with sadness buried inside Gobi Desert.
  • For some time we saw the father and daughter relationship of Irena with Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith ultimately lost his son in communist Russia.
  • When he saw eventually Irena dies that was heart-broken for him

How Khabarov inspired Mr. Smith to continue the long walk of freedom:

  • Mr. Smith took his son from the US to USSR and eventually the communist government killed his son and arrests him in the apprehension of spies of America.
  • Since those times he was cursing himself of the death of his son due to his decision.
  • After the death of Irena, Mr. Smith down with mental pressure.
  • He said to Khabarov to walk with other mates and leave him there. Khabarov told him that he was sent to prison because of his wife.
  • But he knew how communists would have tortured him.
  • His only aim is to taste the freedom by reaching India.
  • He would wait for Poland to be released from the clutches of communism and would reach to his wife.
  • These words inspired Mr. Smith so much that he finds the mental strength from it.

Slowly moving towards freedom:

  • They crossed the treacherous Gobi Desert and see the Great Wall of China.
  • They reach Tibet and took shelter in a Buddhist Monarchy.
  • They slowly crossed the route through the Himalayas and reach Sikkim and then India to have their complete freedom.


  • The Way Back received very positive reviews.
  • Rotten Tomatoes give 74% ratings out of 100.
  • This movie is about great spectacle, good message and provide an important message for freedom.
  • IMDb gives 7.3 rating out of 10.
  • The movie is the mixture of war and history.
  • It shows how the change of political ethics changes the lives of people.
  • How the only freedom is important for them.
  • The rating of mohanmekap[.]com is 8 out of 10.
  • Though there are hardly solid dialogues still the expressions provides importance to costume design and environment.

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Originally published at on August 3, 2018.