Peter Weir’s fabulous The Way Back

Posted by HC in Films / Spirituality on 9 February 2011

This movie is, literally, fabulous. It appears that it’s about a mythical journey. But its realism isn’t wasted.

From Philip French in the ObserverI learn (and haven’t time to check*) that the book on which this movie is based is itself a fantasy. In a way, it’s a double fantasy: it’s written by a man so obsessed by the stories about escape which took hold of him in the Gulag that years later he – still gripped by them – tells them as though true and happening to him. And for years people sort of believed his book.

We are not required to believe Peter Weir’s film. Part of its device is that when a tough new challenge is approached, often the characters advertise it, we expect it, and Weir then cuts ahead to its having been executed. Examples: how to cross the Gobi, really; how to cross the Himalayas, really.

A decent criticism of the film – and it’s been made, is that the characters don’t have a narrative arc of development related to the plot’s advancement. But why should it? maybe we are subtly being told that the characters don’t develop: they’re still back in camp.

* Sorry I have been absent so long. Events, dear boy, events. Perhaps this is why God invented RSS.

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