Homer's Travels: Movie: "The Way"

Monday, November 14, 2011

Movie: "The Way"

A few weeks ago I went to a movie about the Camino de Santiago called "The Way".  The movie, directed by Emilio Estevez and staring Martin Sheen, was filmed along the Camino de Santiago.  I ended up seeing it two times with two completely different impressions of the movie.

My first time, the Wife and I went with lots of anticipation.  I was ready to recognize all the places I walked through.  I was surprised when the movie started in Ventura, CA, near where I spent twenty-one years of my life.  The movie then shifts to Saint Jean Pied de Port.  The Martin Sheen character goes there to retrieve the remains of his estranged son who died on the first day of his Camino.  Sheen decides to finish the Camino for his son, taking his cremated remains along with him.  Everything started out well until I started noticing discrepancies.

One discrepancy wouldn't have been a big deal but there were at least three that I noticed.  An albergue in Roncesvalles that is depicted as a decrepit old building in the movie is actually a very nice bed & breakfast type place in real life.  The albergue Orisson is shown after Roncesvalles when in fact it's before Roncesvalles.  The "only albergue in Torres del Rio" (There are actually more than one) is shown to be run by a crazy man.  If I were the albergue owner in Roncesvalles or an albergue owner in Torres del Rio I would be pissed about how their places are depicted.  Now, I understand that these scenes were put in there to add some atmosphere and comic relief but there was no reason they couldn't use some made up names or use a town along the Camino without an albergue so that no one would be insulted.  I left the movie disappointed.  The Wife, not noticing the discrepancies, liked the story.  I couldn't get past the out of order editing and errors.

My second time was with my mom.  I went in with both eyes wide open.  I disregarded the errors that I found the first time and just watched the movie.  All of a sudden I was seeing things I hadn't seen the first time.  It was like I missed every other scene the first time as I grumbled about the discrepancies and now I saw the whole movie.  It wasn't half bad.  I began liking the characters and I saw how the friendship matured in a way similar to how it happened in real life.  I saw Sheen's character overcome the loss of his son and, in doing so, discovered how to live.  I left the movie smiling.

I'd heard a bit about "The Way" when I was on the Camino.  Pilgrims were worried about a flood of American pilgrim's after the movie came out.  Many pilgrims lament how crowded the Camino is these days.  Will "The Way" flood northern Spain with Americans?  I don't know.  I do know that if you walked the Camino or know someone who has, you should go see this movie.  It will be worth it.


  1. Ooh thanks for the recommendation. I'll probably watch the movie but never actually walk the Camino itself. I'd rather rent a hotel room and visit it on my way to the beach. :)

  2. The movie featured some story-lines from Jack Hitt's book "Off the Road" (it is in the credits). The albergue owner in Roncesvalles and Ramon in Torres del Rio were two bits from Hitt's book in "The Way". And yeah, I noticed the editing error with Orisson after Roncesvalles...but like you, once I just watched the movie for what it was, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

  3. AARP Magazine has a good article about the movie and the making of it. I will save it for you.

  4. Miss McC: You will like it and it give a good idea, though by far not a complete one, of life on the Camino.

    Renegade Pilgrim: Thanks for the info. That explains a lot but they still could have annonomized a couple of the scenes better so as to not dis the real towns/albergues. Thanks for stopping by and visiting Homer's travels.

    Mom: I will pick it up soon.

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