Pilgrims Progress

I must admit from the outset that I am no movie buff and I haven’t seen all the movies up for the Academy Award as best picture this year. But saying that I think I have the ability to see a winning movie, even if that movie didn’t make the finals. Such a movie is The Way.

Starring Martin Sheen and directed by his son Emilio Estevez ( no involvement of the other Sheen, that reprobate Charlie), The Way is the story of an eye doctor from California who finds out his only son has died in France as he was traveling what has come to be called El Camino, the way – a pilgrimage across the north of Spain to the town of Santiago de Compostela, a religious shrine where it is said the remains of St. James, one of the twelve apostles, is buried.

As a tribute to his son and to deal with his grief Sheen’s character takes the ashes of his son and places them at key locations along El Camino. The doctor, who rarely traveled outside of California and argued with his son about going alone on this journey, makes the difficult pilgrimage along the moutainous back roads of Spain.

On the surface it may seem like The Way is a religious movie disguised as a travelogue, but it is rather the story of a man facing great sadness and finishing up the pilgrimage of his son. As he trudges up and down the hills and vallies of Spain, Sheen’s character meets up with other pilgrims trying to work out their own problems or find themselves as they head toward Santiago de Composetela.

The scenery of The Way is simply breathtaking and the characters are not only believeable but truly human. As the journey progresses, his fellow pilgrims help the eye doctor deal with his grief while finding their own peace of mind.

It is a joy to watch a movie where there is a story that is authentic and uplifting and does not fall prey to the predictable movie devices of sex, violence and bawdy humor.

You will likely not find The Way in the movie theaters but will have to find it On Demand or rent it from Netflix, but if you have an interest in a movie that is real and heart -healing, take the journey with Martin Sheen on The Way. I only wish the Academy took a second look at this gem of a movie.


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