As Far as My Feet Will Carry Me
|As Far as My Feet Will Carry Me|
|Directed by||Hardy Martins|
|Produced by||Hardy Martins|
|Written by||Bastian Clevé
Hans Peter Hallwachs
|Running time||158 min|
|Budget||$6 million USD|
As Far as My Feet Will Carry Me (German: So weit die Füße tragen) is a 2001 film about German World War II prisoner of war Clemens Forell's escape from a Siberian Gulag in the Soviet Union back to Germany. It is based on the book of the same name written by Bavarian novellist Josef Martin Bauer. The book is in turn based on the story of Cornelius Rost who used the alias "Clemens Forell" to avoid retribution from the KGB.
Clemens Forell is a German soldier whose unit is captured by the Soviets. Forell is sent to a far northeast labor camp, run by a cruel Lieutenant Kamenev, in the Soviet Union. After an unsuccessful attempt to escape, he ultimately does escape with the aid of the camp doctor, Dr. Stauffer, who had planned to escape himself but is terminally ill with cancer. Forell heads north to avoid the guards, who would expect him to go south. When the supplies given to him by Dr. Stauffer run out, he successfully kills a seal.
Over the winter, he wanders across northern Siberia, until he meets Anastas and Semyon, two gold prospectors. Although initially suspicious of them, Forell eventually joins them. After Semyon falls in a river and Forell rescues him, Semyon kills Anastas when he suspects him of stealing his gold. Semyon and Forell then continue their journey. When Semyon can no longer continue, Forell offers to carry his pack for him, but a suspicious Semyon throws him down a slope, thinking he too will try to steal his gold. Beset by wolves, Forell is rescued by nomadic Chukchi herders, one of whom, named Irina, falls in love with him.
After he makes a successful recovery, the Chukchi find out the Soviets are looking for Forell. Much to Irina's chagrin, Forell leaves, with the dog the Chukchi give him for companionship. When he runs into a logging operation, Forell is sent on the train with the freight as a brakeman. Betrayed, he is nearly captured by the Soviets, led by Kamenev.
Forell manages to escape, but his dog is shot when he attacks and mauls Kamenev. Over the next year, Forell makes his way to Central Asia. A Polish Jewish man helps him acquire a passport despite the fact that Forell is German, and Forell makes his way to the Iranian border. As he is walking to freedom, he sees Kamenev walking towards him from the Iranian side. Petrified, Forell stares at Kamenev and a showdown looms. However, Kamenev steps aside and lets Forell pass, declaring that "the victory is mine". Once on the Iranian side, Forell is believed to be a Soviet spy and taken prisoner. His uncle who works in Ankara, however, recognizes him and Forell is freed. Arriving in Germany at Christmas, Forell sees his family leave for Church. He then arrives at the church, where he is reunited with his family.
Much of the dialogue in the film takes place in languages other than German, such as Russian, Chukchi, and Persian. No subtitles are provided, deliberately so as to impart upon the audience the sense of helplessness felt by the main character, who knows very little Russian.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (January 2012)|
In a scene of Forell's meeting with the Iranian police chief in the latter's office, there are a number of mismatches between what is shown and the situation prevailing in Iran prior to 1979 revolution. The police chief is shown bearded and is wearing an olive green uniform, while the face of the Iranian military personnel used to be clean-shaven and the police uniform was dark blue at the time. In addition, a picture of Dome of the Rock was hanging on the wall, while at that time the Iranian regime was not a supporter of the Palestinian cause. On the contrary, at the time hanging a picture of the Iranian king (the Shah) was obligatory in all government offices, which is not the case in the film.