It is time for me to don the black skivvy, slide on the intellectual-looking glasses, and assume my movie-reviewer persona. Definitely not a hard transition to make when today’s movie review relates to walking a camino in Spain.
Grab a cuppa and a couple of chocolate biscuits (you’ll need some energy for all that walking).
Pull up your comfy chair, sit back and relax, and step out into the Spanish countryside….
“Start a camino as a tourist, end as a pilgrim.”
What is Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago About?
As the name suggests, this movie is about following the journey of six people as they walk the Camino Frances in Spain. The title is a little deceptive though as many more than six people are featured and often these additional bit players are more interesting, or have more perceptive things to say, than the main characters.
Starting from St Jean Pied de Port at the foot of the French Pyrenees, the storyline follows the walkers as they make their way towards Santiago de Compostela. The filming chops and changes between the different people who are walking independently of each other, although at some stages, some of their paths do cross.
The filming is unobtrusive with lots of asides and/or conversations direct to camera. Most of the walkers share their reasons for walking or their complete lack of reasons. Some have overtly religious motivations, while others are questioning and reaching for something in their lives. They just don’t know what that thing is yet.
Other people intricately linked to the Camino are also interviewed, such as priests and monks, shopkeepers, town officials and people who manage the albergues (hostels) called hospitaleros. Their perspective provides a good contrast as permanent participants and observers of the camino, as opposed to the transitory nature of the pilgrims passing through.
“On this camino I can do anything. I can be brave.”
This film nails it! It accurately captures the heat, the rain, the blisters, and the exhaustion. Importantly, it also captures the warmth of new friendships, the intensity of human connection, and the laughter. Lots and lots of laughter.
- It was brutally honest about the Spartan existence of staying in albergues, the nightly snoring orchestra, and the absolute basicness of the thin mattresses on the floor, but also the simple joy of a communal dinner and meeting up with friends you have just met or walked with a week ago.
- There is also a depth of honesty about revealing the obnoxious pilgrims, the know-it-alls and experts, and those who treat it as a competition, racing from town to town. Some of the movie’s stars struggle to stay out of that race.
- The commentary about the stark contrast between walking for weeks in the peaceful countryside and then arriving in a large bustling city, is one that I can really relate to. Similarly, one character has to catch a bus due to an injury. The speed of the bus is almost frightening after weeks of moving slowly through the World on foot.
“A simple existence. An addictive existence. You get up in the morning, put everything you own in one bag and walk.”
- Hard to spot any glaring errors, although some purists may not like that some of the towns and scenery are slightly out of order.
Who Should Watch Walking the Camino?
This movie is for EVERYONE. It is rated PG (mild coarse language) and features people of all ages and stages of life communicating the vast appeal of the Camino Frances pilgrim route.
- If you are after a dose of inspiration, this the movie for you. Particularly amazing was the French lady, Tatiana, who pushed her young son in a stroller all of the way! Now that is commitment!
“A bad day for the ego is a great day for the soul.”
I give this film 9/10.
- It is beautifully filmed and captures the sweeping views and lushness of Spring in Spain. When I walked the Frances it was late Autumn and the colours were mostly golden and brown. This movie made yearn to walk the Frances again and this time in the rich greens of Spring.
- I like that this film explored the more spiritual side of the walk and allowed participants to share their hopes, doubts and longing to live a different and/or better life.
- For me, it was a mini-trip down memory lane as they included some of the same hostels I stayed in and featured iconic street and plaza views.
“The mask disappears and you transform into yourself.”
How Does it Compare to Other Walking Movies?
- This documentary is a neat contrast with, and compliments, The Way. The Way is equally beautiful, but it has Hollywood’s fingerprints all over it, while Walking the Camino is a more solid dose of reality.
- Both are definitely worth an hour or so out of your life for some quality escapism.
Now it is over to you.
Fill up the Comments section below with your thoughts and recommendations. Have you watched Walking the Camino? Love it? Hate it?
What walking movies would you recommend?
Walking the Camino
- Length: 84 minutes
- Rated: PG
- Stars: Tomas (Portugal), Annie (USA), Tatiana and young son Cyrian (France), Wayne (Canada), Misa (Denmark) and Sam (Brazil/UK). Plus input from Martha (South Korea), Alexis (France), Paul (Germany), Jack (Canada) and William (Canada)
- When: Filmed in Spring 2009 and released in 2014.
- Where to Buy: Walking the Camino can be purchased from YouTube, Amazon, Ebay or direct from the documentary webpage.
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