|(from The Way Back/Newmarket Films)|
One of the most anticipated films this year for The Collector (read: Damon Griffin) is surely Peter Weir's The Way Back. Weir's last film was 2003's Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, and in the eight year gap that followed, it appears that he was attached to several projects that he dropped out of before finally taking on this story, about a few soviet gulag prisoners who manage to escape and find their way back home, across hostile terrain. The film stars Colin Farrell, Ed Harris and Saoirse Roman and is set to open in theaters on January 21st.
Weir has always been unique amongst filmmakers in that each of his films concerns itself with an enclosed, sometimes claustrophobic location or set of locales-- a girl's boarding school in Picnic and Hanging Rock, an Amish community in Witness, an artificial community within a massive dome in The Truman Show-- and shows how the inhabitants of said location either try to escape, or attempt to assimilate, often with frustrating, or alienating results. This fascination with space puts him in the same rank of all great space-orientation filmmakers, including Werner Herzog, Carl Dreyer and Alfred Hitchcock. These are directors who have made location, and the movement within that location, a central character, or the root of all happenings, in their films. For Weir, this preoccupation may stem from his native country, Australia; an estranged island, cut off from other countries by hundreds of miles, settled by people who were essentially cast out of England. The Way Back concerns itself with the space of a gulag, yet the difference here is that we know the character does escape, and it seems most of the film involves a journey across great open space. It will be interesting to see how Weir confronts this dynamic.
See the New York Times article for more information, as well as this semi-interview with Weir published on The Playlist. Note how, in the Playlist article, he mentions turning to silent films for his cinematic answers. Would that the rest of the industry's cadre did the same...