We start in a basement. The Red Army is torturing & forcing confessions. The confessions lead to condemnation: The laws become harsher to men than harsh nature. An attack on the family is an attack on the city.
In the wilderness, freedom is not a state of mind, a pretense. Freedom is freedom from necessity: Survival. These men who fight for freedom do not know whether they will live to tell. We see a Pole first, same race as the great Pope John Paul II, how he holds his faith. A merciless American cautions him: mercy will get him killed in the Soviet concentration camp; apparently, the mercy of giving advice will not. The Soviets told them that nature will destroy them – either Siberia or its barbarians. Then he meets the criminals, who would kill as easily as look at you. They hang around a storyteller & gamble.
This movie suggests freedom is alike to spilling the blood of your enemies. It is hatred of those who come to destroy you. For only those can be free who defend themselves. It is the ancient freedom of men who become unconquerable because they have no home nor country nor land. – They are not afraid of the dangers that abound. They are as harsh as the wilderness.
The criminal says: grateful is for dogs. Indeed, they must be a pack; to survive, they must be like a tribe, follow law & leader – they must obey or die. Hard men are hard to break, harder to mold again. The soul of them is endurance. Can’t take the cold & wind? You die. Can’t take the dark woods? You die. Can’t eat whatever animal or roots you find? You die. Knowledge of the ways of the wild is rewarded. How are these people anything but barbarians?
The criminal is glad when the first man dies: he was weak & now there is one less mouth to feed. He then asks who should die next: the weak must die – & they make good food. Probably, in the cold climate, the meat would last… Then they steal the kill of a pack of wolves. Later, they learn to live off the land – they know where to sleep, where to find food, which way to go…
& yet they buried their dead & they prayed when they saw the lake… It makes no one proud to see how these people hallucinate when they are about to die. Still, they are at the beginning of their journey. They still have dreams of an old world. They wash their clothes when they have the chance; they shave… Eventually, they take a girl along.
Men escape a Soviet camp & walk to India. See it.