Synopsis by Mark Deming
The true story of a German soldier's long and difficult journey home after being sentenced to a Russian prison camp inspired this wartime epic. In 1944, Clemens Forell (Bernhard Bettermann) leaves behind his wife and children and joins the German army, where he is sent to fight along the Russian front. After a year in the trenches, Forell is captured by Soviet forces and is sentenced to spend 25 years at hard labor, mining lead. Predictably enough, the mine proves to be a dangerous and dispiriting environment, and after three years Forell decides he can stand no more and blocks out an escape plan. Forell makes his break during the dead of winter, and while he's at first discovered by a group of hunters who intend to turn him back in, a band of Eskimos come to his rescue. Forell throws in his lot with them, eventually falling in love with the lovely granddaughter (Irina Pantayeva) of the Eskimo chieftain. After a few seasons with the Eskimos, Forell resumes his journey back home, narrowly escaping capture in Siberia and finding an unexpected ally as he tries to cross into Iran. So Weit Die Fuesse Tragen was adapted from a best-selling German novel based on an actual incident; the novel was also the basis for a popular German television series of the late '50s.