In 1941, three men attempt to flee communist Russia, escaping a Siberian gulag. The film tells their story and that of four others who escaped with them and a teenage girl who joins them in flight. The group's natural leader is Janusz, a Pole condemned by accusations secured by torturing his wife, spent much of his youth outdoors, and knows how to live in the wild. They escape under cover of a snowstorm: a cynical American, a Russian thug, a comedic accountant, a pastry chef who draws, a priest, and a Pole with night blindness. They face freezing nights, lack of food and water, mosquitoes, an endless desert, the Himalayas, as well as many moral and ethical dilemmas throughout the journey towards freedom.Written by
<email@example.com>, Shahob, Bellingham, WA, US
Early in the film, as the prisoners are marched up to the front gate of the Gulag prison camp, a slogan written in Russian Cyrillic letters is seen over that gate. It is a slightly shortened variation of a famous propaganda slogan from Communist-era Soviet Union, which translates approximately to "Labor in the USSR is a matter of honour, a matter of valour and heroism." See more »
The original plan is to escape to Mongolia, but they discover it has a Communist government. But this government had been ruling since 1924. It is unlikely that not one of the escape party would have known this. See more »
This film tells two stories. The literal one involves a group of Gulag escapees that cross the whole Eurasian continent in order to escape from Russian oppression.
The scenery is amazing, the acting is solid, but, as it has already been noted in other reviews, the action isn't driven by dialogue. At first glance it could seem that some of the characters lack depth, it could seem that the supporting characters lack complexity and history that is so needed for emotional attachment.
But to achieve full understanding of the film, some knowledge of the history of Europe is mandatory. When the metaphor provided by the literal storyline is understood, the characters light up in a completely different light. Suddenly the unrealistically long and hazardous trip takes the revealing shape of the 50-year-long European genocide, repressions, suffering and struggle for independence; a struggle that has been wrongfully forgotten by many in the West.
Thank you for telling our story.
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