I first heard about the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in an art history course called The Medieval City. Dr. Diane Reilly made it sound rockin' - an historic route through France, the Pyrenees, and Spain that devout Catholics took to reach one of three cathedrals with the remains of an apostle, in this case St. James. Traditionally the pilgrims trekked barefoot and penny-less through the mountains and vast expanses, accepting hospitality from churches and homes on the path.
Between the 12th and 14th centuries Santiago de Compostela grew in importance and prestige, at times even eclipsing the pilgrim routes to Jerusalem and Rome. It is remarkable that tens of thousands of pilgrims chose to suffer the hazards of this route every year during the Middle Ages. A combination of the relative accessibility of the route and the miracles associated with the relics of the Saint beneath the magnificent cathedral were certainly contributing factors in its popularity. (Camino Guides)
Sheen plays the protagonist of this story, as a mild and conservative father who finds out his son died while attempting the historic trek. In an attempt to fulfill his son's goal and to process his own grief, Sheen treks the entire length, picking up comrads in a Wizard of Oz-esque fashion.
My parents watched this film at the Heartland Film Festival and felt it was one I needed to see. My mother reflected after our shared screening, "I got choked up on that car ride to the airport, when the son tells his dad he has to go because it's there. That sounds like something you've said."
We've shared many a ride reeking of the same sentiment.
A co-worker and friend from Ecuador is planning on traversing this route in September by bicycle. I've even heard murmurs at work about doing this famed trek and the powers of the introspective journey. I'm mostly fueled by visuals, which is why even though I'd learned about it in school and chatted about it with friends, it took a feature film with some of the Sheen men to make me add 'the way' to my bucket list.
“The Way” is at the very least an exquisite product placement for the Spanish Tourism Board. (Shockya)