Saturday, March 31, 2012
A brutal trek through Tibet
While most of those who watched The Way Back seemed to have loved it, I guess I spoiled it for myself by reading the book--The Long Walk--first. I have to admit the unbelievable true story of this escape from a Siberian Labor Camp to India is epic, while the acting is great, and the scenery is breathtaking. But to read the book is to feel the deprivation these survivors endured, while the movie lacks the grit that conveys the terrible hunger, dehydration, and physical exhaustion of this 4000 mile trip.
Maybe it was that the screenplay liberally detoured from many of the lesser details of the book and I couldn't get past it. Somehow the imagery and acting didn't capture what chapter after chapter of walking and starving, followed by walking and starving, mixed in with lots of freezing, exhaustion, and brutal temps was able to. Also there are cultural exchanges that just get left out in the movie. But regardless the movie is definitely worth the view as starts 400 miles above Lake Baikal, crosses the Mongolian border and Gobi Desert, into Tibet before going over the Himalayas; all without any maps!
Besides the moving scenery, one graphic take away I had was how brutal this trip was on the feet. In the book the author spent more time talking about making footwear multiple times out of different animal hides. But the movie repeatedly showed how beat up their feet got...definitely a more graphic view--and probably more accurate--than what I got from the book. When you see the brutal terrain in this part of the world it gives you an appreciation of how Lowa's Tibet Pro backpacking boots gets their name.
In the end this movie was one of the best anti-gear, minimalist survival triumphs of them all. What did you think of it?