… For weeks now I anxiously awaited the Charlotte release of The Way, a movie about the Camino de Santiago written and directed by Emilio Estevez. My patience was finally rewarded when it began showing locally Friday the 21st.
For a few months now I have been preparing to make my own Camino, after my amazing alcohol fueled revelation, with a group of friends and was very excited to learn about this independent movie project of Estevez’s and his father, Martin Sheen.
The Way was filmed along Camino Frances, the French Way, starting in the Pyrenees of St. Jean Pied de Port and following the northern route across Spain. This is the exact same route I am planning to make myself in October 2013 and the movie provided me with my first chance to visually experience The Way.
The plot is basic enough; Martin Sheen plays Tom, a bereaved father, who carries the remains of his son along The Way to complete the journey his son died trying to complete himself. Along The Way Tom meets The Scarecrow, The Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion.
So yeah, the plot has been done before. I didn’t go to see this movie for it’s story-telling and as long as you don’t either you won’t be disappointed. I went to see the dusty road walked by hundreds of thousands pelegrinos since the middle ages and I was rewarded ten-fold. Visually, this movie puts you right there.
Don’t get me wrong, the movie wasn’t horribly vapid and insufferable. It was quite enjoyable actually, though it was largely due to the wonderful scenery and Catholic imagery. Yes, there was plenty of Catholic imagery despite what other reviews may indicate. I have also read the complaint that the movie lacked the history of the road and it’s Catholic origins, but you have to understand this is not a documentary. It is a story about the varied reasons people make this journey from one end of Spain to the next… or why anyone makes any type of journey at all.
As cliche as the characters were at times and the obvious sentimentality of a carefully selected saccharine soundtrack, somehow set to the backdrop of the Spanish countryside made it completely tolerable and likable.
The essence of the movie explores the very personal reasons involved in completing the Camino; whether it be fitness, spiritual enlightenment or penance. Each character has some relatable elements, but the main character, the one I went to see, was The Way itself. And I wasn’t disappointed at all.