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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New Film Tries to Show The Way in More Ways Than One…

A new movie, The Way, written and directed by Tiger Blood's brother, Emilio Estevez, and starring dad, Martin Sheen, which hits theatres next month, is billed as "an inspirational story about family, friends, and the challenges of navigating a complicated world."

It's a about a journey; a spiritual journey that begins in tragedy and leads a man to a foreign land, looking to better understand his son and, instead, ends up understanding life and himself.

Sheen plays the protagonist of the movie, Thomas Avery, an uptight doctor from California, whose only son is a carefree and adventurous soul, Daniel Avery, played by Estevez.

The son decides to go on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, an ancient Christian pilgrimage destination, that dates back more than a thousand years, also known as the Way of St. James (thus the title).  But, before leaving on his journey, he invites his dad to go along and make it a father son trip.  The father, in his righteousness, rejects him.

As fate would have it, the son dies in a storm and the father has to travel to France, where the son started his trek, to pick up the remains.

However, moved by the loss, and the invitation he had rejected, the father decides to do the pilgrimage with his son's ashes; sort of to complete the trip his son set out to do and share in the experience with him spiritually.

During the pilgrimage he runs into several soul-searching travelers and ultimately finds the meaning of life, which according to the movie ad is, “You don’t choose a life. You live one.”

Although, I believe we have to live, love and enjoy our lives as if today was our last day on earth (easier said then done), I don’t necessarily agree with the slogan. I think life is about the choices we make; the decisions we make (right and wrong), the people we “choose” to love, the relationships we “choose” to keep, and the faith we “choose” to follow (whether God or our own substitute).

Father and Son
Nevertheless, the movie, which was low budget by Hollywood standards (only $10m), was inspired by a trip Sheen took with his grandson, Estevez's son Taylor, who ended up falling in love along the way and marrying a local Spanish girl, where he has lived with her ever since.

Estevez and Sheen say that was the first miracle of many they experienced in the Camino and Sheen convinced his son to write and produce a film about the pilgrimage.  It took five years to make.

In an article on National Catholic Register, father and son openly discuss the difficulties they encountered in making the film and their faith:

Was it difficult to do a movie that looks favorably on God?

Emilio: It wasn’t for me. For others it was. When we pitched it to studio representatives you could see their eyes glaze over. They’d say, “It’s about spirituality.” So we decided to shoot it digitally and independently. I believe this movie plays between Glenwood and Newark. Beverly Hills and New York can take a walk. Hollywood makes a lot of garbage. We know because we’ve been in some of it. There are less and less movies to go to – films without overt sexuality and language that won’t make me blush. We’re all tired of what’s coming out of Hollywood. Word of mouth will help this film make it.

Emilio, do you consider yourself a practicing Catholic? Can you tell me the impact that working on this film has had on your faith?

Emilio: I grew up in a house where my mother was a strict Southern Baptist, and my father was a devout Catholic. I grew up as a kid hearing many arguments about religion. There was always a question about how we would be raised. We were baptized, and as often happens in these types of situations, the father loses the fight. Because of the turmoil, going to Mass was not part of our routine.
When Martin returned to the Church in 1981, he came back to a different Church.

For me, I’m a work in progress and I really feel that I’m on a journey. I have yet to declare myself. I’m on a spiritual journey and am very much in touch with that. There was a point in the production process where I stopped calling what happened along the way coincidences and began calling them miracles. Things like that happened daily, things that were just supposed to be.

What was the genesis of your reversion to the Catholic faith, Martin?

Martin: It began after my illness in the Philippines while filming Apocalypse Now. I began going to Church because I was afraid of dying. Then I stopped going for a long time. My eyes were first reopened when I was in India filming Gandhi. Then, in 1981, while in Paris, I read the book The Brothers Karamazov. I had been given the book by director Terrence Malick. The book kept me up. After reading it, I went to see a priest and told him I wanted to come home. He looked at me with eyes that said, “This is what I do.” He told me to return the next day at 4:00 p.m. as he had a wedding at 4:30 p.m. He told me not to be late. I went to confession with him and wept. I came back to a Church that was very different. I left a Church of fear and returned to a Church of love.
What most interests me about the movie is the Camino itself.

Reminds me of Zund's Road to Emmaus painting 
According to early Church tradition, the Apostle St. James, son of Zebedee and older brother of the beloved disciple, St. John, briefly traveled to Iberia to preach the gospel before returning to Judea, where he was beheaded in Jerusalem by Herod Agrippa I.

After his slaying, his disciples took his body back to Spain, where it is said to have been buried in what is now known as Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia, Spain.

Miracles started happening near the site of the relics. Although, during the Roman persecution of Christians in the 3rd Century, the tomb was practically abandoned, it was rediscovered and in early 9th Century a cathedral was built on the site. It soon became holy land for Christians and a popular destination of pilgrimage during the Middle Ages.

Long walks on the Camino de Santiago
The Way of St. James, which stretches from France, on the east and Portugal on the west, goes through Spain and ends at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, is over 500 miles long (depending on where you start).

Although, I didn't know much about it until I met my wife, who traveled there while living in Spain, during her childhood, I hope to go some day (you could say it's on my bucket list, if I had one)…

Check out the trailer...


alifenton said...


For my 40th next summer I'm going to walk El Camino - join us! 20 July until 4 August...

Your sister in law Aliette

Carlos Espinosa said...

I would love to. Let's see if we have the budget for it. It may be more feasable when the kids are out of college, in about 20 years or so. I'll be 67 but, knowing your sister, she may want to run the Camino so that might be my last hurah!...