"You'll never leave this place. You're going to be buried h
tendays komyathy | U.S.A. & elsewhere traveling | 01/20/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film is the story (based on one man's true experiences) of a German POW who is sent to the far reaches of Siberia in July of 1945. Says a Soviet officer not long after his arrival at Cape Dezhnev prison, notwithstanding the end of the war: "You'll never leave this place. You're going to be buried here. All of us." & "this place" is a lead mine near the Bering Straits that resembles what hell would be if it was characterized by extreme cold as opposed to fire. Determined to escape and return to his family in Germany our protagonist herein (by the name of Clemens Forell) struggles to survive as fellow prisoners drop dead around him; whether from a bullet to the head for hesitating a moment upon a Red Army officer's instructions, or from simply being worked to death. The first hour-plus of this albeit long film is thus devoted to the Soviet Gulag aspect of this film---the bitter cold, the harsh landscapes, cruel Stalinist treatment; in sum, all that is the farce of Communism's "Workers of the World Unite" claptrap as bodies are treated as animals.
Say, how many times have you seen on film any visualizations of a Soviet Gulag/concentration camp? Take all the time you need, I'll wait as you count the numerous films about Nazi Germany trying to name but one that shows up Stalinism for what it really was; ie., more akin to Nazi Germany than Hollywood would like you to believe. This is a rather well made film, mind you, but it is also significant for its portrayal of this aspect of Soviet brutality. The rest of the film concerns the triumph of the human spirit as this German escapes from Soviet Hell and attempts to make it all the way back, over barren rugged land, through Siberian ice, over dangerous rivers, to Germany to see the family who thinks him dead. Do give it some of your time (well, it's a little more than some, as this film is rather drawn out and a bit long) should you get the chance to view this film. It's a story worth seeing. Cheers!"
Great survival and endurance film from WWII based on a true
Jaroslav Melgr | Colorado | 03/06/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is film is based on a true story of a German soldier Clemens Forrell who is sent to the Russian front and taken captive at the end of the war. He's sent to a labor camp where death seems much more appealing than staying alive. What keeps him going is the memory of his wife and a promise he made to his daughter that he'd return. He's able to escape with the help of a German doctor who has stashed away supplies and provisions for his own escape, but when he finds out he's got a cancer he knows he won't make it himself. He also knows Clemens has the endurance, smarts and toughness to make the journey. So he gives him the provisions, gun, clothes and everything he stashed away and sends him off on his way. Clemans takes 3 years and 8000 miles before he makes it to Iran, only to end up in a prison there as a Russian spy. Luckily he's rescued from there and able to return to Germany to his family who haven't given up hope.
Not that I'm a fan of Germany in WWII, but this movie makes you feel some empathy for the German POWs who were hauled off to Siberia to labor camps for the rest of their lives. Their treatment by Russians is truly deplorable, which is hardly surprising. If for nothing else, the Russians did not treat their own people any better let alone show any respect for their captives.
It's a great story and I give it four stars. The thing that made me take a star off the rating is that it is a bit too melodramatic. More than it needs to be in my opinion. Specifically, I'm referring to the movie-long chase of the prisoner by the camp commander. There is no way a prison camp commander would be allowed to travel across Russia to chase after an escaped prisoner. A commander who had a prisoner escape on his watch would be careful not to report it in order to avoid repercussions. He'd do a search for him for a while no doubt, given there were any tracks or any way to follow the escapee. But he would not worry about it beyond an initial unsuccessful search assuming the cold, hunger and wolfs would take care of the prisoner sooner or later. After all, Siberia is a pretty vast country and pretty unforgiving too. Chances of survival for a lone escapee who knows no local language, has no map or compass would be pretty minimal. Neither were the Russians in the late 40's sophisticated enough to have radios and communication systems in remote areas of the Siberia (native Siberian villages) to receive news about escaped prisoners. Undoubtedly, these things were added to "dramatize" the story and keep the viewer on his toes, but it takes away from the authenticity. I personally like real life stories told "as they are" without any embellishment. However, it is a griping film and a very interesting story of endurance and survival.
As Far As My Feet Will Carry Me
Jaroslav Melgr | 02/25/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a German movie with English subtitles, but dont let that stop you. Based on a true story about a German held prisoner in a Russian labor camp somewhere in Siberia. His escape and the long journey home to the family he was forced to leave behind. I do not speak German & am not into subtitles, but this one really struck an accord with me. I rented it at a video place & enjoyed it so much that I not only purchased the DVD for my extensive DVD library, but have also ordered the book. Take a chance....watch this movie as it will stay with you awhile, not be forgotten like a lot of other movies you watched."
Compelling adventure drama
Dennis Littrell | SoCal | 07/10/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a German language film with English subtitles based on the novel by the same name which was based on a true story about a German POW in the aftermath of WWII who escaped a Siberia work camp and made an amazing 8,000-mile trek home to Munich to be reunited with his family.
I haven't read the novel, but of course it was a novel and so much of it was made up. It doesn't matter however, since what counts in a movie is simply the movie itself. I am always a little put off when the blurbs for a film scream out: "Based on a true story!" So what? Sometimes that's significant and sometimes it isn't. In this case the fact that there actually existed a German POW who managed such an amazing escape is important. The exact details of what happened to him would be wonderful to have. But in lieu of that, we do have this wonderful movie.
Bernhard Bettermann stars as Clemens Forell, and he is perfect for the part. To survive such an epic adventure the person has to be strong of body and strong of will. Bettermann looks as though he could actually do something like this, except for the fact that he is so tall and pale I suspect he would stand out and be easily identified as a foreigner in those strange lands through which he trekked. Also a bit not so realistic is the Soviet camp commander who personally chases Forell all the way to the Iranian border (although that resulted in a nice ironic scene on the bridge at the border between Iran and what--I think--is Turkmenistan). In reality there were probably several Soviet officers who played that part. And I would also liked to have seen a little more about how he found enough to eat. And finally it is clear that the last parts of his journey were sped up a bit as though the filmmakers were in a hurry. But these are small quibbles.
I don't know if this "coloration" (as I will call it) was in the book, but what director Harvey Martins does is make the tall and "Aryan" Forell experience some of the same horrors that the Jews experienced. In the beginning he is in a cattle car and nearly starved to death as he is taken to the Siberian lead mines. He is in rags and nearly frozen and gets kicked around by sadistic soldiers. If you saw just this part of the movie you would swear it was about the Jews being sent to a concentration camp. In the camp after Forell is caught in an early escape attempt he is shown being beaten by his fellow soldiers, who of course, were punished because he tried to escape. This was exactly the sort of thing the Nazis did in the occupied countries during WWII--if a single German was killed, that killing would be revenged many times over. Later, one of the people who helped Forell is a Jew who lost relatives to the Nazis. Nonetheless he helps Forell, and in doing so demonstrates not only a superior morality, but the kind of courage that is rare. And why did he do it? Because that is the kind of person he is, and that is the kind of persons we all should be.
While Forell is a positive, even a heroic figure, and a nice change for Germans who have to endlessly read about and see Germans portrayed in a most negative way throughout their whole lives, the movie itself tends to be neutral politically.
The scenes of the snow and the forests and the various places that Forell travels through are nicely done. The ending is exquisite and brought me to tears.