Well…if I’m being political…there certainly is a reason this film has gone unnoticed.
You couldn’t find a more anti-communist film in today’s Hollywood. From beginning to end the Communist system and officials are endlessly demonized—and appropriately so. While part of Russia was busy trying to beat back Hitler, Stalin was also busy rounding up hundreds of thousands and shipping them off to Siberia where many would die simply for being an intellectual or merely suspected of having an opinion outside the Communist party line.
Over and over the film hammers home the removal of individual freedom in the Russian system. Over and over you are struck with the cruelty of the Communist system and its supporters.
The film itself was directed by a top notch filmmaker in Peter Weir (Gallipoli, Year of Living Dangerously, Dead Poets Society, Witness, Truman Show, Master and Commander: Far Side of the World, etc.) and it has A-list actors in Ed Harris, Colin Farrell and Jim Sturgess. All do solid work in their roles as Polish and Russian escapees from a Siberian gulag. Their foot based journey over 4000 km from Siberia to India is covered in detail taking them from snowy forests in Russia to caves and deserts of Mongolia. Never leaving their side though is the horror of being returned to the Communist system…and its that fear, less than that of the harsh prison that hangs over everyone. A system that turns wife against husband, brother against brother…one that strips individuals of all free will that is the bigger horror than any environmental danger.
This one likely goes on all “young conservatives” list of films to watch from the past 10 years. Its faults, and it has a few, is its length (at over two hours you FEEL the length of their journey) and externalization of danger as almost all conflict is vs. nature itself or vs. the Communist system. There is no person or object against which the characters really struggle…they just move from one poor environmental condition to the next, which makes for some pretty scenes on film but not overly thrilling.
Worth a watch. Might want to sit Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez down for a watch as well…