Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Way: The Movie and What The Camino de Santiago is Really Like

I went and saw the premier of Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen's movie about the Camino de Santiago on Friday. I had to drive out to Arlington to see it (since it hasn't hit all theaters yet) but I was super excited.

Would you judge me to know that I thought about strapping my "concha"/Camino shell to my purse to identify myself just in case there were other pilgrims there? (Don't worry...I didn't.)

Anyway, when I got to the theater it was just an elderly couple and me, then a few more people straggled in (Unfortunately, they included several movie narrators--Yeah, hi, you don't have to tell us what is going on. We are all here watching it!), but I'm fairly certain there were no other pilgrims in the crowd.

And the question I keep getting--How did I like it?

It was good. It wasn't spectacular. But it was good.

It's hard to decide how I would have felt about the movie if I hadn't walked the Camino, because, well, a few things were off. Granted it took me over a month to hike the entire Camino, and you can't exactly expect a movie to capture all of that. They got a lot of details right (like how people from different countries carry different variations of walking sticks, the conditions in some of the hostels, the rocks at Cruz de Ferro, etc.) but missed a lot too.

Just a few:

  • The main character, Martin Sheen, hadn't trained at all for the Camino. That's fine, I didn't either. But he was old and they just show him trucking right along like the little engine that could the whole way. He never even looks winded. Not realistic. They are at the top of Alto de Perdon (the scene outside of Pamplona with the cut out statues of pilgrims) looking fresh as daisies. The mountain is called "Mount of Forgiveness" for a reason--it's steep enough that supposedly you will have atoned for all your sins by the time you get to the top. And I cursed every belonging in my backpack on the way up it. 
  • They look too clean. Seriously. By the end of the days we were looking raggedy. By the end of the month, wearing the same thing everyday, well you understand why many pilgrims burn their clothes afterwards. 
  • Speaking of clothes--Martin never once is shown washing his clothes. I spent significant time every single day hand washing clothes. Washing the clothes. Hanging the clothes to dry. Checking the clothes. Running to grab them when it started to rain. Hanging them inside above the heaters. Putting them on still damp in the mornings. 
  • It never once rained. I know I walked in the spring, but in Galicia it rains pretty much every day all year long. And walking in the rain is way different than walking when it's not raining. 
  • Blisters. There were no blisters. I knew 2 people who made it through the Camino sans blisters. But the four main characters in the movie? Oh yeah. They would have been getting some blisters. 
  • They totally misrepresented Canadians abroad. Stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason and I have never met a Canadian abroad like the one they showed. (Besides, all the Canadians on the Camino were French Canadians). 
  • They had lots of nice shots of landscapes along the way, and perhaps it's impossible, but they did not even begin to capture the intense beauty that surrounds you along the Camino. 
  • And honestly, I think cafe con leche should have played a much larger role in the film ; )
OK, enough quejando, the movie was good. And if you didn't know any better, you would probably love it even more (although, no one in that theater I'm sure had the swell in their heart as the characters saw Santiago in the distance for the first time from Monto do Gozo, like I did. Probably none of them could smell the incense as the film showed the botafumeiro swinging through the cathedral, like I could. No one there could hear just how loud the snoring in those hostels was...). And best of all, I think the movie did do a lovely job of showing how along the Camino, whether you wanted to or not, you made deep connections with a variety of people along the way. 

All that to say, I left the theater with lots of Camino memories fresh on my mind. You should all go see it, and, most importantly, you should all go walk the Camino!

But beware...a promise is a promise: I said that if the movie did not do justice to the pain involved in hiking the Camino that I would bust out pictures of my blisters. So, consider yourself warned. This is what the Camino did to me (Pictures smaller for your own good! Don't look if you don't want to!): 

Damage post Meseta 

Ha, this was me sitting on Monto do Gozo-- with a view of both Santiago and the (partially healed?) wounds it took me to get there!

It seems like a locura but they were all worth it. 

1 comment:

Krystal said...

I hope you got a pedicure since then! :)