The PJ Tatler

Hollywood finally makes a movie about the Soviet gulag

Peter Weir, who directed the brilliant Master and Commander, helms The Way Back.

“The Way Back” is a unique and groundbreaking film: It represents Hollywood’s first attempt to portray the Soviet Gulag, in meticulously researched detail. I know this to be true because I was a historical consultant to Weir. He asked me for advice because I wrote a book about the Gulag, but he did plenty of research on his own, as his questions reflected. Once, he called to ask whether the guards leading the prisoners off the train would have been wearing the same uniforms as the guards receiving them at the camp (answer: no).

It’s based on a true story, and it’s up for a minor Oscar.

Update: The Way Back turns out to be the second gulag film — One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, a European production, was released in 1970.