Analysis of the Symbolic Journey in Weir's 'Way Back' and Eliot's 'Waste Land'
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An Analysis of the Symbolic Journey in Weir's Way Back and Eliot's "Waste Land"
Aside from the obvious symbols of water and fire, birth and purification, in T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land," there is the overall symbol of journey first implied in the opening stanza: "Marie, hold on tight. And down we went." Peter Weir's film The Way Back may also be described as a work at the center of which is a symbolic journey. While Weir's film recounts the survival of a group of escapees from the Soviet Gulag as they travel from Siberia to India, Eliot's poem illustrates the fracture of the modern world and the journey/longing for peace, symbolized (like in Weir's film) by the Eastern culture which preaches "Shanti." This paper will analyze the journey of both the film and the poem and show how each symbolizes the modern desire for spiritual wholeness in a world that has lost connection with truth, peace and transcendence.
Antonio Sanchez-Escalonilla observes that "old myths tell of journeys to the underworld to challenge death," and that "film heroes act like mythological models and usually must venture into underworlds to rescue those suffering from torments or death threats." From Sanchez-Escalonilla's perspective, Janusz is the symbol of the heroic soul, who must travel through deadly, hostile conditions and essentially "challenge death" in Weir's Way Back. Betrayed by his wife in the opening scene, Janusz (a Polish prisoner of war) represents the West betrayed by its own deviation