Monday, October 10, 2011

"The Way" a Movie by Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen


On Friday, October 7th the 2010 movie The Way was finally released in the United States. On Saturday, Laurie and I were joined by Brian and Koreen FitzGerald for the one hour drive down to Burbank to view it in one of only three theaters in Southern California showing the film on its opening weekend.


The plot centers around Martin Sheen's character Tom, an opthamologist from Ventura, California, who comes to St. Jean Pied de Port, France to collect the remains of his adult son Daniel, played by director Emilio Estevez, killed in the Pyrenees in a storm while walking the Camino de Santiago, also known as The Way of Saint James.

Rather than return home, Tom decides to embark on the historical pilgrimage to honor his son's desire to finish the journey.

What Tom doesn't plan on is the profound impact the journey will have on him and his way of viewing the world around him

Though ill prepared for the 500 mile trek, Tom soon discovers that he will not be alone on this journey. On "The Way," Tom meets other pilgrims, each with their own issues and looking for greater meaning in their lives: a Dutchman trying to lose weight, a Canadian woman purportedly trying to quit smoking but really trying to shake lose from her life's demons and an Irish writer who is suffering from a bout of writer's block.

From the unexpected and, oftentimes, amusing experiences along "The Way," this unlikely quartet of misfits creates an everlasting bond -- a Camino Family if you will.

By the end of the film, Tom learns what it means to be a citizen of the world again as the Camino helps Tom to bring closure to his unresolved relationship with his son Daniel. Tom discovers the difference between "the life we live and the life we choose."


As most of you know who follow this blog, our friends Jason and Christie Johnson walked a large part this Camino de Santiago in 2009. I walked the entire French Route seen in the movie in 2010 and, as I write, Matthew Epperson is in Burgos, Spain about 165 miles into his 500 mile Camino this Fall.

The Camino was a life changing experience for me and the memories of the shared joy, sorrows and dynamics of our Camino Family (Hans from The Netherlands, Trine from Denmark, Julie from Canada, Michelle from Germany and the San Diego girls Jillian, Jamie and Ruth) are with me daily.

The movie for me was tough to judge because although it tried to capture the spirit of the Camino, it could not do it for me in only 1 hour and 55 minutes. I must admit getting emotional during the opening credits and marveling again at the incredible scenery that Northern Spain provides on the Camino. Still, it was hard for me to distill a 33 day trek into 2 hours.

All in all though, I was glad that a movie about the experinces that all peregrinos share, regardless of when you strolled the Camino, was brought to the screen.

If you get the chance, see it. You'll feel good in the end -- promise.

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