Movie Review: Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago – Does it Really Show What it is Like to Walk a Camino?

A person admiring the view over the Pyrenees. Source: People walking the camino. Source: caminodocumentary.org
Source: caminodocumentary.org

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?

Walking the Camino movie poster. Source: amazon.comAs 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.”
The Accurate
  • A poem about walking. Credit - Joy Cowley - NZ
    Source: Joy Cowley, NZ

    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.”
The Less-Than-Accurate
  • 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?
  • People walking the camino. Source: caminodocumentary.org/
    Source: caminodocumentary.org

    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.”
My Rating:
  • Dirt paths saying. Source: Red Tractor DesignsDirt paths saying. Source: Red Tractor Designs
    Source: Red Tractor Designs

    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
  • Walking the Camino movie logoLength: 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.

#camino #travelinspo #caminodesantiago #armchairtravel #longdistancewalking #TheWay #moviereview #walkinginspain #walkingthecamino

16 thoughts on “Movie Review: Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago – Does it Really Show What it is Like to Walk a Camino?

  1. Suzanne August 19, 2020 / 1:47 pm

    I love the quote about the dirt road, and, yes Mel, you put the Camino right up in front again of my “I’m gonna do it list”. Ate the chocolate, too much with no walk as too wet and windy today!. Oh well, tomorrow is another day!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure August 19, 2020 / 2:17 pm

      Just think of that chocolate as carb-loading for future walks! 🙂 That theory works for me EVERY time! Happy dreaming and planning…one day we will be on the road again. Take care, Mel

      Liked by 1 person

  2. margaret21 August 19, 2020 / 3:35 pm

    Definitely worth seeking out. Thanks, I’ll follow this up. I wonder what’s happening now in those albergues in times of Covid? Are they even open?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure August 19, 2020 / 4:09 pm

      I understand that some albergues had started to reopen, but had to close again when they had the most recent outbreaks in Galicia and a couple of other places. Apparently the Government has stipulated a whole of lot super-strict cleaning regimes and guest restrictions ie. the number of pilgrims allowed to stay at the same time, so the albergue experience will not be like it used to be. I really feel for the operators as they provide such an excellent service for low cost. If you keep an eye on the forum (https://www.caminodesantiago.me/) they have been posting regular updates of what is open and what is closed. Thanks for reading and happy viewing. Mel

      Liked by 1 person

        • Life...One Big Adventure August 20, 2020 / 7:47 am

          Yes, I think everyone in small business is doing it hard. They certainly are in Australia and we have been relatively untouched in the larger scheme of things. It will come good though. We just have to be patient and stay positive. Take care, Mel

          Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure August 20, 2020 / 7:48 am

      Also nice viewing. It will be a good insight into your own caminos….one day. Have a happy day. Mel

      Like

  3. Frances Antonia August 20, 2020 / 6:35 am

    Hmm have I watched this? Maybe. Does a German lady meet a partner?

    Entering those cities though …. it’s absolutely a shock to the senses. I remember the first time and being totally off kilter.

    Oh I do long to walk a camino when I read your words.

    Fran X

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure August 20, 2020 / 11:43 am

      Yes, Scandanavian lady finds a love interest. I thought it was a pretty accurate representation of what awaits a new pilgrim, but it is a shocker for my wanderlust! 😉 have a good day, Melx

      Liked by 1 person

      • Frances Antonia August 20, 2020 / 3:41 pm

        Yes I remember enjoying it. Always nice to follow a personal story.

        Oh you poor thing! While we had a fab time away this summer when I
        returned I realised just have far away and hard it is right now to get to Australia. Kinda hit me. I imagine the reverse must be true for you. Kinda locked in. And no doubt harder for you all. What’s the antidote for the wanderlust, dreaming up adventures? Lol you’ll be gone half the year when the world opens again. F x

        Liked by 1 person

        • Life...One Big Adventure August 21, 2020 / 8:01 am

          I am trying to stay philosophical knowing that not being able to travel is a First World problem. So many people doing it much harder including losing loved ones to this horrid virus. In the meantime I have set myself some mini-travel goals and aim to be spending more time out and about domestically. In the larger scheme of things, we are still very lucky to live in Aus! Melx

          Liked by 1 person

          • Frances Antonia August 21, 2020 / 8:19 pm

            Yes same. I hear and read so many stories of hardship that reign me in if I start to feel sorry for myself. Mini travel goals are excellent adventures! I’ve enjoyed seeing a lot of friends domestic online travel in Aussie. So much beauty. It’s a lot about perspective really isn’t it. Look forward to seeing your mini goals arrive in stories here. Fran x

            Liked by 1 person

          • Life...One Big Adventure August 22, 2020 / 9:11 am

            Yes, they will all pop up here at some stage or other. Not quite as exotic as strolling to Everest Base Camp or across Spain, but still fun! Have a good day, Melx

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Reg Spittle August 21, 2020 / 12:42 am

    This is a compelling film that I didn’t want to end. Well done, Lydia!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure August 21, 2020 / 7:46 am

      They really captured the emotions of walking a camino, didn’t they? One day we will be able to experience all over again. Take care, Mel

      Liked by 1 person

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