I adore movies and when I find one that resonates with me on a level of mind, body, and spirit I am swept away in a symphony of senses. THE WAY with Martin Sheen (directed by his son at his request, Emilio Estevez) is one of those movies. I watched it a few days ago and it has lingered with me, the scents of the Spanish countryside mixing with my own nostalgia of the (often not-so-pleasant) smells and sounds of backpack life in hostel dorms.
The Camino de Santiago (or the Way of St James) has mythic history as the route St James (the Apostle James) body took back to Spain to be buried at Santiago de Compostela in the Galicia region of Spain.
As a young backpacker in my late teens/early twenties I had heard about the route and spent a couple of years fantasizing about taking the journey but the memory faded into the background of different travels to other continents and the busyness of life and winding, crooked paths.
Early in graduate school the memory of Galicia and the mythic and mystic path returned when I met a wonderful friend (who ended up introducing me to my husband later on) whose family originated from the Galicia region of Spain, and many still lived in a tiny village about an hour outside of Santiago de Compostela. She told me a native’s story of reveling in the travelers who would pass through and the festivities that surrounded the town and it’s legendary history. She told me about the Galician people and their language, particular to their region and as different a dialect as Creole from mainline Spanish.
Again, I was ignited with the mystery of the place and people and history–but life pushed on, gas prices raised, and the thoughts of ever being able to return to Europe, let alone take the trek, quickly faded into an afterthought.
Then came “THE WAY” as metaphoric as it is vivid. A movie which, truly, takes the viewer through the experience of walking “el camino”. You can almost taste the food, smell the dirt of the road and green of grass, and feel the exhaustion of travelers walking miles upon miles to reach the end of the road.
While the sight of so many backpacks and hostel dorms did make me weepily nostalgic for the backpacking life, I don’t know if financially or physicially I will be able to take the journey to Compostela anytime soon, but thanks to the beautiful story threaded by Emilio Estevez and woven by Martin Sheen, I feel almost like I have taken the journey.
If there is one movie of faith you see this year, this is my recommendation. It lacks the cheese of many Christian films and carries a depth of spirituality which could cross the barriers to reach anyone on any faith journey (in any religion or none at all). In addition to the beauty of the film the soundtrack is amazing, including “Country Road” by James Taylor and “Thank U” by Alanis Morrisette.
This movie moved with ease onto my top favorite journey films of all, and quickly became one of my favorite films on faith.