First Hit: What an amazing and inspiring story.
Frigid cold to extreme heat, this film must have been difficult to make but the story is amazing and definitely worth the effort.
This film is about living with your truth and the willingness to walk to the ends of the earth (literally) to find your internal freedom. It starts with a few printed lines on the screen to set the stage when Germany and Russia invaded Poland divvying it up.
Janusz (played by Jim Sturgess) is a polish man falsely accused of being a spy by his wife who was coerced by soviet officials to sign a statement stating her husband was a spy. We follow him to a prison camp in Siberia. Here he meets others who are political prisoners along with real criminals. Valka (played by Colin Farrell) is a wild street raised criminal who is ready to hurt anyone who crosses him.
There is an American, Mr. Smith, (played by Ed Harris) who lost his son in the changing political environment of Russia where he had come to work. These men plus three others break out one night and begin their journey. Along the way to the border of Mongolia they begin to lose some of the group. They pick up one other person who was following them for days.
Irena, (played by Saoirse Ronan) is a street girl who lost her parents in the political struggle and despite objections they allow her to travel with them. When they get to the border of Mongolia, Valka realizes he cannot leave his mother country and doesn’t cross with the others.
The group soon realizes that Mongolia has gone communist as well and they continue to head south. They enter into China and cross the Gobi Desert eventually landing in Tibet. To reach real freedom they must leave Tibet and trek over the Himalayas to make it to India.
The group now down three had walked 4,000 miles to reach freedom. I loved the touch the director put in when they crossed into India and the Army official asked for their paper passports; the travels responded they didn’t have any and the official said, no problem, welcome. This is a story about perseverance, dedication, camaraderie, and the love to live a free life.
This is based on a true story.
Sturgess is wonderful and the young man who took charge of this group and led them all the way. Farrell is a great character actor and here he excels again. Harris is very good as an older, sad, wizened, and skeptical American. Ronan is enchanting as Irena, the girl who learned all their stories and shared them with the others so that she became the glue of the group. Keith R. Clark wrote an excellent screenplay from Slavomir Rawicz’s novel. Peter Weir directed this with regards for the beauty of the geography and with inspiration from the story.
Overall: This was an amazing adventure and unfortunately it won’t get seen by many.