The Way

A good friend walked part of the Camino de Santiago a couple of years ago and when we saw that this movie was being shown at one of our local cinemas we knew we had to go.

Do you know of the Camino?  It is a Catholic pilgrimage route to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain.  For more than 1,000 years pilgrims have traveled along the many Caminos/walking trails to Santiago. The trails  originate in various parts of Europe, some start and finish in Spain, and they all converge on Santiago de Compostela .

The most popular Camino walking trail is the Camino Frances. This part of the Camino de Santiago traditionally starts in St Jean Pied de Port in France and finishes some 780 kms later in Santiago de Compostela.  However you can start anywhere and even continue past Santiago to the sea at Finisterre.  Cape Finisterre was thought to be the end of the world in medieval times.

Now to the film.  Thomas Avery (Martin Sheen) is an American ophthalmologist who goes to France to retrieve the body of his son who was killed during a storm while walking the Camino.  After some soul-searching and to honour his son’s wishes to complete the journey, Tom decides to walk the ancient spiritual trail where his son died.  He decides to scatter his son’s ashes at various points along the way.  But he is an inexperienced distance walker (trekker) and he finds the going hard.

On his journey he falls in with three other pilgrims and together they make the journey across France and Spain to their destination.  Each is walking the camino for his/her own reasons and to solve a particular dilemma and during the walk Tom comes to realise that there is so much more to live for than his ‘ordinary’ life back in the States.

This is a movie well worth seeing if it comes to your area.  It is a collaboration between Sheen and his son Emilio Estevez who wrote and directed the movie. Estevez plays the role of the son in the movie. I imagine that it will have an effect on many who see this film even to the extent that some might decide to walk part or perhaps even the whole trail.

The Way is not bound up with religion although it ends in the Catholic Cathedral of St James.  For me it spoke of   finding out who we are and about living our lives in the company of others, fully aware of our surroundings, ourselves and others.

And one of the things that we do see in the movie, and which my friend also witnessed was the swinging of the Thurible – the huge incense burner that takes eight men to swing it.  Apparently this was a necessary piece of equipment in the olden days when pilgrims walked the track with no access to water for bathing and arrived at the journey’s end smiling and smelling.  The smell of the incense was to cover the other smells.


For more on the Thurible (or The Botafumeiro) at the Cathedral see

“One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting their bad advice..”
From The Journey by Mary Oliver.

for the rest of this Mary Oliver poem click here.


29 responses to “The Way

  1. I had not heard of this (the movie or the trail.) The incense burner was an interesting fact – I imagine the smell could be overwhelming.


    • Because it costs around $250 Euros each time the thurible is used and so they limit this to only 30 times a year and my friend was lucky enough to be there on one of the days. The smell all those years ago – well…..


  2. Thanks for the review. It reminds me of walking a labyrinth.


  3. Thank you for the recommendation, Judith. I’ve actually had my eye on this movie. We have it streaming through something called Netflix here in the States. (Does Netflix exist in NZ?) In any case, I will put this movie in my queue. I look forward to seeing it.


  4. Pinned this as a movie I must see. Thank you. You can see the Pin here. Hope it brings you more visitors. Staying strong as I know you are.


    • Thanks for that Katherine. I read today’s post on your blog but couldn’t fine where to leave a comment.
      Just for your information I used EFT to rid myself of an unreasoning fear of cats. I can now be in a room with several and not feel I have to climb onto a table. I am a great advert for EFT. It’s empowering when we take control.
      And thanks for pinning this post. 🙂


    • I repinned it from Katherine. Thanks Katherine!


  5. This sounds like a good one Judith! It’s on my “to see” list. And thanks for the history lesson too. I especially liked the bit about pilgrims arriving “smiling and smelling.”


    • Can you just imagine the smell Dor? No wonder they need that huge Botafumeiro – origin – botar expel and fume smoke. I think it would be a fascinating thing to do; maybe when I lose 10 years. 🙂


  6. sounds fascinating. I was talking to someone recently who walked a part of the trail, sure piqued my interest. Hoping to catch this film at some point. and hey, EFT. love it.


  7. I just loved this movie!! I have a couple of friends who have walked the Camino and I have read the book by Canadian, Jane Christmas “What the Psychic Told the Pilgram” a most enjoyable read. I follow a blog with great photos of one fellows experience walking the Camino.


    • Thanks Darlene. I have been over to the other blog and love the photos. I have sent the link onto my friend who has walked part of the Camino. 🙂


  8. I’ve read a couple of books written by people who have walked this pilgrimage but this film sounds very worthwhile. Thanks for the review Judith


  9. Joyce Rupp wrote an excellent book about this called “Walk In a Relaxed Manner”. It was very thought provoking. She was not a young woman when she did it and she had a fair amount of struggles completing it.


  10. thank you for the movie recommendation…we watched it tonight and thought it was very special..what a remarkable pilgrimage it is….


  11. I recently listed to a Podcast about the Camino de Santiago. It sounds like an amazing journey. Have you ever done a similar pilgrimage?
    The Mary Oliver poem excerpt you posted is one of my favorites. She is marvelous.


    • No unfortunately I haven’t but there is still time perhaps. And one doesn’t have to walk the whole track. Many people, as my friend, just walk for a couple of days. don’t quite know how one gets off the track. I suppose arrangements are made to be picked up. Let’s just see.


  12. Pingback: Book review: Ailsa Piper’s SINNING ACROSS SPAIN – A Walker’s Journey from Granada to Galicia – caminodownunder

  13. Pingback: El Camino: The Experience! « Ralphie´s Portal

  14. Pingback: The Way « Foyer Talk

  15. Thank you for the pingback. The Camino experience is wonderful!


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