1 January 2014 | Andy-296
Interesting, if overlong
In 1939, at the outset of the Second World War, Poland suffered a double invasion: first, at the beginning of September, it was invaded from the West by Nazi Germany. Then, a few weeks later, it was invaded from the East by the Soviet Union. This film tells the story of a Polish family living in a small village in the east of Poland, who is deported to Siberia, in closed trains, with many other Poles, by the invading Russians. In Siberia, the Poles are settled in work camps, the infamous Gulag. The Gulag wasn't Auschwitz, it wasn't an extermination camp, but it was very harsh, and many people die there from untreated illnesses and exposure to the elements. (There are only a few movies set in the Gulag – one I remember is the interesting Russian movie "Krai" from some years ago). Interestingly, it wasn't that difficult to escape from the Gulag, security wasn't very high, but few people tried to escape since it was almost impossible to survive alone outside in the Taiga. In the Gulag, the Poles are told to work in order to eat (mainly by felling trees around the camp) while they are treated very harshly by the guards, many of whom do not conceal their anti-Polish and anti-Semitic feelings. Many more things happen, especially after Germany invades the Soviet Union in 1941 and the Polish government in exile becomes nominally an ally of Russia. Naturally, this movie has an anti-Russian tone, but as far as know no one can say that what is portrayed here is historically inaccurate. I found the movie interesting, though it is a bit overlong, it could have done with some trimming. The wintry locations (this was filmed around Krasnoyarsk, in Siberia) certainly help.