Friday, October 7, was the release of a new film by Emilio Estevez, THE WAY, starring Martin Sheen. It is now on my list “to watch”. It has been a while since I’ve been compelled to go see an American film. I tend to favor cultural, international films and lately American films have not been at the top of my list. However, when I received notice of the upcoming release and not knowing anything about it, something made me read further. Whether it was the film’s writer/director/actor, Emilio Estevez, or his father, Martin Sheen’s lead role, I don’t know. I would venture to say the setting was appealing, El Camino de Santiago de Compostela’s pilgrimage is certainly growing in interest among world travelers. On the other hand, the plot, a father’s desire to reconnect with his dead son through a challenging, spiritual journey, is also intriguing. Perhaps all of the above is the sole reason to watch this cultural film.
Cultural? Yes, the focus on the region, a pilgrimage largely taken by Spaniards, Christians, and Europeans, does lend itself to a cultural experience. An experience common to the ‘other’ and rare to many. Perhaps this “other”-thing will compel you to add this film to your list. Take a look. Stay tuned for my film review.
THE WAY was filmed entirely in Spain and France along the actual Camino de Santiago. The Camino de Santiago or the Way of St. James is a spiritual journey that pilgrims of all faiths and backgrounds have traversed for a thousand years. The pilgrimage originally began at one’s doorstep, though modern trekkers today would find that rather difficult, particularly American pilgrims needing to cross the Atlantic. While there are a number of established routes leading to Santiago from all directions, the most popular is the Camino Française, which crosses the Pyrenees Mountains along the Spanish-French border starting in St. Jean Pied de Port.
Martin Sheen plays Tom, an American doctor who comes to St. Jean Pied de Port, France to collect the remains of his adult son, killed in the Pyrenees in a storm while walking The Camino de Santiago, also known as The Way of Saint James. Driven by his profound sadness and desire to understand his son better, Tom decides to embark on the historical pilgrimage, leaving his “California bubble life” behind.
Armed with his son’s backpack and guidebook, Tom navigates the 800 km pilgrimage from the French Pyrenees, to Santiago de Compostela in the north west of Spain, but soon discovers that he will not be alone on this journey.
While walking The Camino, Tom meets other pilgrims from around the world, all broken and looking for greater meaning in their lives: a Dutchman (Yorick van Wageningen) a Canadian (Deborah Kara Unger) and an Irish writer (James Nesbitt) who is suffering from a bout of “writer’s block.”
From the hardship experienced along “The Way” this unlikely quartet of misfits create an everlasting bond and Tom begins to learn what it means to be a citizen of the world again, and discovers the difference between “The life we live and the life we choose”. THE WAY was filmed entirely in Spain and France along the actual Camino de Santiago.