The Way Back is not only an epic of the human spirit, but a story about the need for spiritual healing and release from past wrongdoing. It shows that the prisons we make ourselves can sometimes keep us in bondage more than any regime can. That's a powerful message no matter the setting, but The Way Back's backdrop of natural beauty makes for a unique, uplifting big-screen experience.


  • Language/Profanity: Lord's name taken in vain; "I'll be d-mned"; "a-s" "s-it."

  • Alcohol/Smoking/Drugs: Several scenes of prisoners smoking; escapees share a bottle of liquor.

  • Sex/Nudity: Drawings of a naked woman are bartered among prisoners; a lewd gesture.

  • Violence/Crime: Valka stabs another prisoner at the gulag, and joins the escape after threatening a prisoner with a knife; gun put to a prisoner's head; dead, frozen bodies; a man's face has blood on it, and his clothes have large blood stains; Smith recounts how the authorities shot his son; Voss describes killing a young man in cold blood.

  • Religion/Morals: Kindness is cited as a weakness, but a potentially useful one to prisoners who may need help later; men hold and exchange a silver cross; Christian burials and prayers for the Lord to be kind to the deceased; Valka questions another man's morals, asserting that he "says too many prayers for an innocent man"; Voss says Irena was "sent to us"; Irena lies about her background; priests are remembered as being taken to prison camps after religion was banned by Communist authorities; a provision of water is described as a miracle, but the men wonder if they can count on one another; a cross marks a grave site; a character says he didn't kill himself because staying alive was a kind of protest; Janusz's journey is fueled by a need to offer forgiveness to his wife, who was forced to inform on him, because he believes she'll never be able to forgive herself—only he can offer the forgiveness she needs.

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