Santa Clara Mag Blog
The Camino to Santiago de Compostela, in a theatre near you
Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011
When The Way opens, the gruff Tom Avery (Martin Sheen) is driving his adult son Daniel (Emilio Estevez) to the airport and tells him: "My life here may not seem like much to you, but it's the life I choose."
"You don't choose a life, Dad," his son responds, as if trying to forgive him for their estranged past. "You live one."
Thus begins a wonderful, quiet little movie directed by Estevez and starring his father. It's about taking a journey, vigorously walking a road toward an ill-understood destination.
And it travels a path familiar to readers of Santa Clara Magazine. In the essay “Pilgrimage” (SCM Summer 2010), Martha E. Stortz describes her journey along the Camino and the lessons learned: about big questions, saints, direction, and feet.
"You do walk your own Camino; you can’t walk someone else’s,” Stortz writes. “Nor can you let anyone else set your pace, carry your pack, or deal with your demons."
As for the Sheen/Estevez journey: Sheen’s Tom, a grouchy, golfing ophthalmologist in Ventura, Calif., learns of Daniel's death in Europe in the film's first minutes. Daniel has been killed in a storm after traversing only one leg of a 500-mile pilgrimage through the Pyrenees along St. James' Way. A grief-stricken Tom decides to abandon his former life after receiving Daniel's ashes. Carrying the remains of his son in a silver box, Tom vows, "We will walk the way together."
Tom learns Stortz's lesson quickly. Wishing only to wallow silently in his grief, he soon has companions on his journey. As the box containing his son’s remains is lost first to a river, later to a thief, Tom's fellow pilgrims bring him, in turns, misery, understanding, and joy.