Review of “The Way”
As someone said in a talk I heard recently, I set out to be a follower of Jesus, not a professional purveyor of religion. Now the film The Way has reminded those of us who follow Jesus that it’s about the journey.
The Way tells us the story of Tom, an American ophthalmologist, whose only son Daniel is killed as he begins to walk the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage route from France across northern Spain, ending at Santiago de Compostela. Tom decides to walk the 800km of the Camino himself to complete what Daniel never achieved. On the Way Tom joins up with two men and a woman who all have their own reasons for walking the Camino.
None of the four companions is walking as a Christian pilgrim, but each walks to find answers and to change their lives for the better. As with all pilgrimage, the purpose is not the destination but the journey.
The film is the work of writer and director Emilio Estevez and his father Martin Sheen. Sheen himself plays Tom, and Estevez appears as Daniel, mostly in flashback and in Tom’s imagination as a companion on the walk. The film is an exploration of the relationship between father and son In addition to the on-screen father-son relationship, the film is dedicated to the memory of Sheen’s father and was inspired by Estevez’s son, Taylor.
In every so-called talent programme and casting show these days the story is in the “journey”. Each person we meet has to be weak, talentless and timid at first, progressing through their limited ability to a triumphant climax and launch into superstardom. Of course this is entirely artificial, an invented narrative to fulfil the requirements of a TV format.
In fiction “the journey” is a narrative device used in much great writing from Canterbury Tales to Huckleberry Finn, and a hundred road films. As the three ragged men and one woman of “The Way” followed the Camino I was reminded of four others who followed the Yellow Brick Road, and was I was delighted to read later that The Wizard of Oz was in the mind of Emilio Estevez as he made the film.
Recent films made by Christian writers and directors have also been road movies. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is, like The Way, a journey of characters thrown together on a quest for salvation. And Africa United, the story of five children walking from Rwanda to South Africa for the football World Cup, has similar themes.
For Christians The Way is the Way of Christ, and this road movie takes us on that journey, a journey of faith and transformation. It is an inspirational film without any artifice in its emotional appeal. The magnificent scenery, the hardness of the travelling and the purposeful journey of the main characters inspires us to find our way, our way home.
The Way is on general release in the UK from May 13, 2011, and in the US from September 30, 2011. Thanks for the preview tickets go to Premier Christian Radio, official Faith Media Partners with Icon for The Way