The Way Back (BLU-RAY)

The Way Back

On Blu-Ray: 
Friday, April 22, 2011
Running Time: 
133 minutes
Bottom Line:

Being a throughly enjoyable epic, The Way Back is a gorgeous Blu-ray that is definitely worth watching

Gee, and I thought I needed chapstick. 

The Way Back is the true life story of Russian Gulag prisoners who escaped from Siberia and walked 4000 miles to safety in India. As the tag line "Their escape was just the beginning" suggests, the vast majority of the film is following the group as they trek across various environments and meet new challenges along the way. 

This is director Peter Weir's first film in seven years. Weir is best known for movies such as Master and Commander, Truman Show, and Dead Poets Society. He has always been know to have steady direction, never lacking focus or linearity in his films, and here his trend continues.

The main focus of The Way Back is the human spirit. With this being such an inspirational story, they decided to depict just how strong the will to live can be when placed in front of adversity. This movie depicts that theme effectively as Weir's direction gives great focus to the harshness of the journey. As we go along with this group, you get a real feeling as to how grueling their journey really was. From the unforgiving weather to the sheer distance, the film transcends the weariness of the journey flawlessly. 

Beyond depicting the journey in a very human way, it is also shot and edited in epic fashion. There are many sweeping shots of vast wilderness as they tread along, and it looks absolutely gorgeous. The pacing throughout felt consistent as you would see as far the horizon, then meet with them at that horizon. It never slacked, but certainly gave way to just how long their journey took.

So as far as the events depicted in the film are concerned, they are entertaining, but you never loose the feeling of just how difficult this was for them.

To make the film even better, there are tons of great performances by the cast. Each of the escaping prisoners deliver powerful and convincing performances as their characters become more and more battered. Seeing Jim Sturgess (Across the Universe, 21) and Colin Farrell perform believable Russian accents was quite satisfying, as I was never doubting their characters. 

What assisted these performances was the fantastic makeup. We see the escapees face and body become further weathered through each terrain. It looked truly painful what happened to them, adding to the weight of the actors emotions all the more. 

All in all I would say The Way Back is a well acted and directed escape epic that takes you through a tiring journey, but in the end leaves you inspired by how powerful the will to live can be. It may be slowly paced for some, but that is the point. To transcend exactly how the men who went through the journey felt. 

As far as how you should see it, I highly suggest the Blu-ray. With such epic cinematography, it looks spectacular. Despite being filmed on a modest budget, the picture quality never feels that way and is always great to look at. The only thing keeping me from giving this Blu-ray a A+ is the lack of extras. All you get is a making of featurette and a trailer for the movie. Although the featurette is an entertaining one, it still doesn't feel entirely satisfying. But as is, this is still a great buy, and the lack of features shouldn't prevent you from seeing such a fantastic movie.

Review by Alex Tracy