the Way Back is a 2010 survival drama film directed by Peter Weir, from a screenplay by Weir and Keith Clarke. The film is inspired by The Long Walk (1956), the memoir by former Polish prisoner of war Sławomir Rawicz, who claimed to have escaped from a Soviet Gulag and walked 4,000 miles to freedom in World War II. The film stars Jim Sturgess, Colin Farrell, Ed Harris, and Saoirse Ronan, with Alexandru Potocean, Sebastian Urzendowsky, Gustaf Skarsgård, Dragoş Bucur and Mark Strong.
Regardless of whether or not this particular “long walk” really took place, during World War II other Poles undertook difficult journeys attempting to leave the Soviet Union. Accounts of their escapes can be found in the archives of the Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum in London, and in the Hoover Institute at Stanford University, in California. Also, several relatively verifiable and believable escapee autobiographies have been published in English, e.g., Michael Krupa’s Shallow Graves in Siberia.
Many of the events that happen in the gulag scenes come from Varlam Shalamov’s The Kolyma Tales. (read/download PDF here)
spacetime coordinates: 1959 > 1965 Kansas
Capote is a 2005 biographical film about Truman Capote, following the events during the writing of Capote’s non-fiction book In Cold Blood. Philip Seymour Hoffman won several awards, including the Academy Award for Best Actor, for his critically acclaimed portrayal of the title character. The film was based on Gerald Clarke‘s biography Capote and was directed by Bennett Miller.
“The viIIage of HoIcomb stands on the high wheat pIains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call ‘out there.
UntiI one morning in mid-November, 1959 few Americans, in fact, few Kansans, had ever heard of Holcomb.
Like the waters of the Arkansas River, Iike the motorists on the highway, exceptionaI happenings never stopped there. Perry Smith’s voice
was both gentIe and prim. A voice that, though soft, manufactured each sound exactIy, ejected it Iike a smoke ring issuing from a parson’s mouth.
The four coffins, which quite fiIIed the smaII, flower-crowded parlor, were to be sealed at the funeral services, very understandabIy,
for the effect was disquieting. Nancy wore her dress of cherry-red veIvet, her brother a bright pIaid shirt. The parents were more sedateIy attired,
Mr. Clutter in navy-blue flannel, his wife in navy-bIue crepe. And it was this especiaIIy that lent the scene an awful aura,
the head of each was compIeteIy encased in cotton. A swollen cocoon twice the size of an ordinary bIown-up baIIoon.
And the cotton, because it had been sprayed with a gIossy substance, twinkled like Christmas tree snow.
One Tuesday at dawn, a carload of strangers, ignorant of the IocaI disaster, were startIed by what they saw as they crossed the prairies
and passed through HoIcomb. Windows ablaze.
AImost every window in aImost every house, and in the brightIy-Iit rooms, fuIIy-cIothed peopIe, even entire families, who had sat the whoIe night wide awake,
watchfuI, Iistening. Of what were they frightened? It might happen again.”