The Way Back is going to be released soon, and yet it is hardly being discussed in the cryptozoology blogosphere.
What is The Way Back, you ask?
It is only a well-funded big tent motion picture, directed by Peter Weir, starring Colin Farrell, Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris, Saoirse Ronan, and Mark Strong, featuring the reallife escape of prisoners from the Siberian gulag.
This is the long-rumored film that is loosely based on a book entitled The Long Walk by Slawomir Rawicz, which details an encounter with two Abominable Snowmen or Yetis (actual drawings of them shown above and at the bottom).
But will the movie skip the Yetis and only show the human versus nature melodrama of The Long Walk? Could the book’s major subtle focus on the alleged sighting of these Yetis be ignored by the moviemakers?
Certainly, no one linked to the film is talking about the Snowmen angle. That seems strange if there were Yetis in this film.
There are no Yetis in the trailer.
Maybe there are no Snowmen in the movie?
The release dates for The Way Back are December 29, 2010 (limited) and January 21, 2011 (worldwide).
Of course, it would be ironic if the Yetis are left out of The Way Back. The book The Long Walk was specifically written because of the encounters with the Abominable Snowmen.
As the story is told…
In 1954, a young English journalist named Ronald Downing traveled to the Midlands to call on a man about whom he had heard only fleeting reports. This man, Downing had been told, was a reclusive Eastern European traveler who had had the strange good fortune to see a yeti — an “abominable snowman,” the legendary, supposedly humanoid inhabitant of the high Himalayas. The London Daily Mail, for which Downing wrote, was financing a Himalayas expedition of its own to find and photograph the yeti, and Downing was charged with obtaining a suitably colorful background story.
The factual nature of The Long Walk has been the center of a storm of confusion in recent years. Incredibly popular, it sold over 500,000 copies and is credited with inspiring many explorers. Over the years, critics of the book’s accuracy have included Peter Fleming (the brother of Ian Fleming), Eric Shipton and Hugh E. Richardson, a British diplomat stationed in Lhasa.
In 2006, the BBC unearthed records (including some written by Rawicz himself, some Russian) that showed he had been released by the USSR in 1942 and that the book may have been based on the story of another Polish soldier, Witold Gliński. In May 2009, Witold Gliński, a Polish WWII veteran living in the UK, came forward to claim that the story of Rawicz was true, but was actually an account of what happened to him, not Rawicz.
The Long Walk was ghost-written by Ronald Downing based on conversations with Rawicz. It was released in the UK in 1956 and has been translated into 25 languages.
In the controversy about the reality and backstory from The Long Walk to The Way Back, I’m afraid the story of the Yetis may have been lost. I certainly am interested in seeing that part of this incident remembered and further researched.
Here’s how Harry Trumbore imagined The Long Walk’s Yeti…
…in The Field Guide to Bigfoot and Other Mystery Primates (written in 1999, with Patrick Huyghe), where the story is detailed on pages 110-111.
A giant tip of the snowcap to correspondent and cryptozoology blogger Cameron McCormick, who pointed out the initial idea to me for this inquiry.