As the wind starting getting back into my sails I started listening to Amos Lee. Found a Ray of Sunshine who was enamored with him, and the momentum picked up. Amos Lee’s most recent album, Mission Bell, has the album’s staple song: El Camino. He even does a version of the song with Willie Nelson at the end of the album.
Then a month ago I saw that Los Lonely Boys did an album about El Camino. I noticed the pattern but I didn’t consider it a sign until a couple weeks ago I saw on the Dish TV pay-per-view ad for this movie.
The Way is about a 60-something opthamologist, played by Martin Sheen, who has become distant with his Anthropology doctoral-candidate son following the death of his wife / son’s mother. The son, played by Emilio Estevez, goes off to Europe to walk El Camino de Santiago before finishing his Doctoral thesis so as to see some of the truths he’d been reading about. His father didn’t understand it, doesn’t want to know what the Hell the El Camino is but drove him to the airport to see him off – but not before trying to talk his son out of it which lead to a fight.
A couple months later goes by and the father’s playing golf with his doctor buddies during an overcast morning when he receives a phone call from the French police saying his son died in a storm while in the Pyrenees on the last leg of the El Camino. Shattered and confused, the father heads off to France to indentify the body. Once there, an officer with a religious soul helps console the father and begins to impassionately discuss El Camino de Santiago: The Way of Saint James, the path to Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain where at the end is believed to be buried the remains of the Apostle James. The path has become a revered pilgrimage for Catholics / Christians. The office gives a few hints and tips about the path and its significance to believers. The story begins to marinate within the father’s soul as he identifies the body. In the middle of the night the father wakes up, walks to the station and tells the officer he wants to cremate his son’s remains so he can spread the ashes along the trail. The officer tries to talk him out of it for a couple minutes – siting the father’s age and the length of the journey – but seeing the determination in the father’s eyes and having lost a child himself, he helps and encourages the father.
The next morning, the father begins the journey along El Camino de Santiago. Along the way he befriends a Dutchman looking to lose weight, a jaded, middle-aged Canadian bombshell looking to quit smoking & an Irish writer looking to overcome writer’s block. As for the rest, I recommend you watch the story unfold. It’s so much better that way and is worth the time! Unless, you know, you hate being inspired.
I love journeys of discovery – especially when the story doesn’t suck. The Way is a throwback to old-time movie making where the attention was focused on dialogue & cinematography: Spanish countrysides – vineyards, gardens, majestic churches. & villas…all the reasons why I want to visit the land! And it’s about discovering one’s self through self-sacrifice, honest assessments of one-another & pure exhaustion. And wine – feats, toasts to greater days and table discussions.
My problem with The Way had nothing to do with the movie. I was just sad to realize that Amos Lee’s El Camino was about the one in California. So was Los Lonely Boys. I mean, I’m glad, I’ll learn more about that road & I’m glad it lead me to this movie but I was hoping the signs lined up that much more. Just that much more.
Otherwise, like 50/50, I could watch this 3 more times tonight.
The majority of the soundtrack is done by Tyler Bates, a career movie soundtrack genius whose works have included 300, The Watchmen, Slither & Conan the Barbarian. When you’re hoping it was tied to Amos Lee, you get a little sad but overall the soundtrack is very worthwhile. I’m going to listen to it straight through once the music is done. Or at least on the walk tomorrow.
And it’s got James Taylor’s, Country Road, & David Gray’s, My Oh My. Even a second-album Alanis Morrisette. Who know there was a purpose for that album? 🙂
Or have you? Either way. Let me know what you think, even if you think I’m crazy.
I do. Even if some folks have said it’s gone commercial.
And for the record, I started watching it a second consecutive time.
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