A Dash To Freedom: As Far As My Feet Will Carry Me

A Dash To Freedom: As Far As My Feet Will Carry Me

Static Mass Rating: 3/5
Second Sight 

Release date: June 6th 2011
Certificate (UK): 15
Running time: 153 minutes

Year of production: 2001
Country of origin: Germany
Original language: German and Russian with English subtitles

Director: Hardy Martins
Writers: Bastian Cleve, Bernd Schwamm

Cast: Bernhard Bettermann, Michael Mendl, Anatoliy Kotenyov, Irina Pantaeva, Iris Bohm, Anna Hermann, Adalbert Mayer, Hans Peter Hallwachs, Egor Abrossimov, Hans-Uwe Bauer

Official Movie Site, in German

The Soviet Gulag were forced labour camp that convicts, petty criminals, political prisoners and German soldiers were sent to during the Stalin era.

They worked under terrible conditions and together with the extreme weather, violence at the hands of the Soviets and meagre food rations, the death rates were high. The only way out of a Gulag was by death but Cornelius Rost, a German World War II soldier, managed to escape from one and this is his story, based on the novel by Josef Martin Bauer.

As Far As My Feet Will Carry Me

It’s a made-for-television movie from 2001 where Cornelius has been renamed Clemens Forell (Bernhard Bettermann), like in the novel so the KGB wouldn’t find him, but he’s still a German soldier and he’s been sent to one of the Siberian death camps in the far northeast at the end of World War II.

After enduring years of cruelty at the hands of the Soviets, he knows the only way he’ll get to leave is when he’s dead unless he tries to escape. There’s only one thing Clemens wants and that’s to get back home to his wife and child and so he teams up with fellow inmate Dr. Stauffer (Michael Mendl) to help him break out.

As Far As My Feet Will Carry Me

No sooner than he’s out though he faces impossible weather conditions and terribly difficult journey, made only worse by an unstable gold digger who thinks everybody wants to steal from him.

He’ll make some better friends along the way though, including a dog and a kind Jewish man who puts aside the fact that Clemens is German and a soldier and offers him his help.

As Far As My Feet Will Carry Me

It’s a harrowing story and also very long, but it’s well told, focusing on the humanity of the characters which makes it very easy to respond to on an emotional level. This is the first time it’s been available in the UK and it’s an opportunity to see another side to the WWII story where not all soldiers were Nazis.

Rost’s story is one of an indemonstrable will to survive and reach his family. After escaping, it would take him three years and two months to finally reach home; this moment is beautifully depicted in the film. Despite its length, As Far As My Feet Will Carry Me is a deeply moving and well dramatised with Bernhard Bettermann perfectly cast as a man who just wants to go home.

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