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Disparaging "The Way"

2020 Camino Guides

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
The movie, just like 99.99999% of all movies is full of stereotyping. Not just the gypsy thief bit. That's just what they do in movies (and television shows). I have seen stereotypes of my demographics/background etc in movies all my life. Not that big a deal for me. I don't get mad because I laugh or am entertained by other stereotypes on the screen. They put what people want to see in the script. People like stereotypes.
It is a privilege not to have to worry about stereotyping. There are countries where it can literally get you killed, where young black boys playing with toy guns are shot dead by the police, for example, because of stereotypes that black boys are dangerous. Given the marginalized status of the Roma in Europe, I don't think it is unreasonable or unwise to worry about the effects of this stereotyping on them and the treatment they face.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
Given the marginalized status of the Roma in Europe
Isn‘t that an oversimplification? I know actually very little about this but from what I read the current situation isn’t uniform at all across Europe, there are huge differences between countries. This thread made me Google the name of the person from Burgos mentioned earlier in this thread and I learnt about a part of the town of Burgos called “El Encuentro” where 40 families live. That shocked me a bit, I didn’t expect to see this in Spain and certainly not in a town like Burgos. I don’t think it is typical, though.

This thread has also made me wonder what these scenes in the movie have actually achieved ...
 
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blamoca

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2018)
I was fortunate to see it premiere in 2010 at the Toronto International Film Festival with both Martin Sheen and Emilio Esteves in attendance to address the audience. Martin Sheen was late arriving to the theatre because he was picketing with Toronto's striking Hotel Workers union members outside his Toronto hotel. The activist in him made him walk in solidarity with them. It was a funny start to the premiere. So Emilio introduced the film alone joined by him afterwards for audience questions, sharing several interesting points....(1) they had wanted to make a film together for years but struggled to find an idea / story that interested them, that was authentic to who they are, and could be made into a successful feature film. he had wanted to incorporate his Spanish heritage in it somehow (2) Martin had been reconnecting with family on his mother's side in Ireland and had been trying to plan a Camino with many of his family members.. there was interest and at one point he had plans with some of them for a 'short ' camino but in the end planning was too difficult particularly with his working schedule
(3) he did not walk the camino ...for the film he did just enough to capture scenes for filming but was brought to & from the set /location.
(4) he wanted it be / appear as authentic as possible and would pack and carry his knapsack full with real gear so it was heavy...but the producers were worried given his past health issues / heart attack in 70s...so they would empty his pack unbeknownst to him.

they were really excited to share the film with audiences, it was very special project for them ..and they were very humble yet complimentary with each other..praising their respective work as actor and director.

whether it deserves critical acclaim or not..this made it very enjoyable to see.

pictures of him picketing here...
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
So I read a bit more about Spain ... I am aware of the fact that there is a forum policy to disapprove and suppress discussion of ethnicity so I'm not sure whether I'm still on solid ground here. Anyway, apparently Spain doesn't have a nomadic Gitano population. The majority lives in housing just like anyone else; in fact, many have become 'invisible', as more than one article put it.

This is one thing that seems odd about the movie and that struck me already as odd when I watched it the first time: the three pilgrims, while chasing after the boy, enter a courtyard that to me looks as Spanish as they come and both the Dutch and the Irish pilgrim claim immediately that "gypsies live here". Huh??? Whatever Emilio Estevez wants to narrate here ... that looks like a major fail to me.

My only contact, if one wants to call it that, with the national Roma population (in contrast to recent migrants from the Balkan states) during the long walk to Santiago, and that I am aware of, was in France where there are still "gens du voyage" / "travellers". It was somewhere in the countryside in the South West, in the middle of fields, where I walked past a large plot of land that had been divided into small rectangular patches, each of them equipped with water and electricity connections. It was empty but there was a road sign pointing to it and saying "gens du voyage" so I knew what it was. I had never come across something like this before. More in Wikipedia.
 
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JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia (May 2016)
C. Frances (Sept 2017)
Camino Portugues (June 2019)
I am baffled by the popularity of many Hollywood hit movies. But in recent years, there have been some quite wonderful movies widely released (not sure if they would be called Hollywood or not). For example "Peanut Butter Falcon" which, if you haven't seen it... watch for it! The best movie I've seen in over a year.

Re. The Way, I was annoyed by parts of it and noticed the geographic mix-ups. But what I thought the film captured well was the way a group of people from such different backgrounds, with such different personalities and unique emotional baggage, etc can end up as a like a family. Unlikely friendships that wouldn't have had a chance back at home, but grew into a bond that learns to accept different values and idiosyncrasies in its members. Unlike most Hollywood movies, nobody fell in love or ended up in bed, and that rang true for me... I mean I'm sure it happens, but walkers learn to love others in non-romantic ways.

I had heard from a Korean pilgrim about a Korean woman who wrote a book or led walks in Korea and was responsible for the large number of Koreans heading to the Camino. I'd be curious to see the Korean documentary that inspired Korean people to walk the Camino.
 

JimGeier

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF Spring 2016
CF Autumn 2017
VDLP Spring 2020
I was bothered by the Burgos scenes in The Way. I could not imagine anyone stealing a pilgrim's backpack (but I also would not have left it outside the bar). My interpretation of that series was that they needed a vehicle for Tom to hit a very low point, questioning his being there, from which he could rise and understand what was really important about his pilgrimage. Based on the quotes from Emilio, I was not too far off... (so I am a bit self-congratulatory in this post...).

On my first pilgrimage on the Camino Frances, I too, hit a very low point when, after being sick for almost three days ended up in the hospital in Palencia (40 km from the Camino, south of Carrion de los Condes). I was in a very dark place mentally, assuming that I had failed, my body had given out, and I just wanted to get well and get home. I asked the admitting doctor if there was an airport nearby so I could start planning my journey home. She gave me a surprised look and asked, "Aren't you walking the Camino de Santiago?" to which I said, "Yes, I was, but I am too ill to continue." She then looked at her clipboard and said, "All of these test results tell me you are very healthy. You have two problems and we can take care of them." Then she looked me directly in the eye and said, "Your Camino is important. When you walk into the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, you will understand. And we are going to get you well so you can continue." Then she paused, again looked me directly in the eye and repeated, "Your Camino is important." Oh my, at first I thought no way, but as the day continued, the IV re-hydrated me, and the antibiotic took effect, I started to believe it was possible. The next day I was released, and I started walking again the day after. Then fifteen days later, walking into the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela was magical!

Buen Camino!
--jim--
 

Peregrinopaul

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Sanabres (2018) Frances reverse(2018)
Just getting back to, and in support of my original post on this thread, I've just watched an interview with Martin Sheen , in which he says, quote, “If this had been a Hollywood movie I would never have got the part.”
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
I am baffled by the popularity of many Hollywood hit movies. But in recent years, there have been some quite wonderful movies widely released (not sure if they would be called Hollywood or not). For example "Peanut Butter Falcon" which, if you haven't seen it... watch for it! The best movie I've seen in over a year.

Re. The Way, I was annoyed by parts of it and noticed the geographic mix-ups. But what I thought the film captured well was the way a group of people from such different backgrounds, with such different personalities and unique emotional baggage, etc can end up as a like a family. Unlikely friendships that wouldn't have had a chance back at home, but grew into a bond that learns to accept different values and idiosyncrasies in its members. Unlike most Hollywood movies, nobody fell in love or ended up in bed, and that rang true for me... I mean I'm sure it happens, but walkers learn to love others in non-romantic ways.

I had heard from a Korean pilgrim about a Korean woman who wrote a book or led walks in Korea and was responsible for the large number of Koreans heading to the Camino. I'd be curious to see the Korean documentary that inspired Korean people to walk the Camino.
So would I. I asked a bit to Korean pilgrims I have met, but I was never able to get an exact answer. More on my part I suppose.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
It is a privilege not to have to worry about stereotyping. There are countries where it can literally get you killed, where young black boys playing with toy guns are shot dead by the police, for example, because of stereotypes that black boys are dangerous. Given the marginalized status of the Roma in Europe, I don't think it is unreasonable or unwise to worry about the effects of this stereotyping on them and the treatment they face.
LOL...I am hardly privileged, but of course all of us who have enough idle time to mindlessly chat away on some internet forum are certainly privileged to some degree.
I suppose your comment there about the police is a stereotype in of itself, right? You made the comment based on hearsay of others (television, media, movies etc). Not on actual experience.
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia (May 2016)
C. Frances (Sept 2017)
Camino Portugues (June 2019)
LOL...I am hardly privileged, but of course all of us who have enough idle time to mindlessly chat away on some internet forum are certainly privileged to some degree.
I suppose your comment there about the police is a stereotype in of itself, right? You made the comment based on hearsay of others (television, media, movies etc). Not on actual experience.
Racism and the higher likelihood of African Americans being targeted by the police (not All police, but enough to be a problem) is not "hearsay". I will not debate this on this forum, but i just felt i needed to say this.
 

Jacobus

Pilgrim since 2008
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2008 09 14
Del Norte 2011. Portuguese 2015, 2017Ingles 2015 Fisterre 2015.
A point well-made Roland. Most posters from English-speaking countries are not even aware of Kerkerling's book. Nor of Korean documentaries mentioned in another thread that have motivated plenty of Korean pilgrims.
This isn’t going to be well accepted I suspect. American cultural influence over the rest of the western world is riddled with the American point of view. Viewpoints such as the Korean, Euro or South American are not considered then rejected. They are generally unknown. They are like a foreign language even when translated.
Coelho’s book is not about the Camino as it exists physically. It is riddled with his personal spirituality and experience. It is difficult to read after you have completed a Camino because of the allegory. Having his cultural background would no doubt be helpful.
I suspect the Kerkerling book would be easier to read if the shared cultural experience was present. I have tried to get through it several times but find myself uninvolved with the stories. Perhaps a translation issue or a lack of understanding of German humour on my part.
I am Canadian and I grew up in a border-town. My mother was American. I have been heavily influenced by American culture. I think The Way is about that particular subject and how the main character’s realization that there is more than one viewing point of the world.
IMHO
Cheers
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
Erm ... maybe I didn't pay enough attention but I didn't notice an African American, boy or otherwise, in The Way. I just had a look again at it on YouTube (I'm not "watching" the movie so I justify this as an ok thing to do 🤭 ).

Now, in my opinion, this is stereotyping, too, and one reason why I found these scenes somewhat odd:

Tom: Then we have to file a police report.​
Dutch guy (fearful voice): No, cops hate gypsies, they don't want to have anything to do with it. Not in Amsterdam, not anywhere in Europe.​

I don't even know where to begin but this just does not sound right to me. Not for 2019 and not even for 2010 when the movie came out.

Incidentally, the results of a new Eurobarometer were published today. Eurobarometer are EU wide surveys, done at regularly intervals and about various topics. This time it's about perceptions of discrimination, not about actual discriminatory practices or facts. Interesting reading, considerable differences between countries, detailed reports per EU country and for the EU as a whole. The title of the Special Eurobarometer 493 is Discrimination in the EU (including LGBTI)
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
I suspect the Kerkerling book would be easier to read if the shared cultural experience was present. I have tried to get through it several times but find myself uninvolved with the stories. Perhaps a translation issue or a lack of understanding of German humour on my part.
It's the subtleties of the language and the associations you get when you are familiar with the words and the culture. I can give you an example from another popular book, Immortelle randonnée, Compostelle malgré moi. Both English and French are foreign languages for me. There is a passage in the book where the author describes a hierarchy of pilgrims. It has me in stitches each time I read it in French. The English translation doesn't even make me smile. It's not the fault of the translator, and my sense of humour is the same. And it's not about puns, either.
 
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Jacobus

Pilgrim since 2008
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2008 09 14
Del Norte 2011. Portuguese 2015, 2017Ingles 2015 Fisterre 2015.
I have a similar experience. I read a book called Cathedral of the Sea. It was a translation into English from the original Spanish. It was set in Catalonia. Ildefonso Falcones.
I recently watched a Spanish production of the same title from Netflix. Original in Spanish overdubbed in English.
The main plot line was similar but a lot of history and culture was dropped for dramatic effect.
I recommend the book 😄
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
Racism and the higher likelihood of African Americans being targeted by the police (not All police, but enough to be a problem) is not "hearsay". I will not debate this on this forum, but i just felt i needed to say this.
He did not say or mention the United States in his comment. He made no mention of any country. I would say your assumption it is the United States is an example of stereotyping. Without a doubt.
 

Peregrinopaul

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Sanabres (2018) Frances reverse(2018)
Now, in my opinion, this is stereotyping, too, and one reason why I found these scenes somewhat odd:

Tom: Then we have to file a police report.​
Dutch guy (fearful voice): No, cops hate gypsies, they don't want to have anything to do with it. Not in Amsterdam, not anywhere in Europe.​

I don't even know where to begin but this just does not sound right to me. Not for 2019 and not even for 2010 when the movie came out.
You are absolutely right about this negative stereotyping Kathharina, but in fact the film deliberately goes on to overturn this negative view by presenting the Gitano community in a very positive light.
It is interesting that Tom takes the advice of the Gitano father - (a very sensitive character portrayal in my view) - to heart, and resolves to go on to Muxia.

From comments in interviews on the net, I understand that the party scene was organised by gypsy friends of Sheen’s Spanish daughter-in-law.
 

Peregrinopaul

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Sanabres (2018) Frances reverse(2018)
...correction, Emilio Estevez's daughter-in-law.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
LOL...I am hardly privileged, but of course all of us who have enough idle time to mindlessly chat away on some internet forum are certainly privileged to some degree.
I suppose your comment there about the police is a stereotype in of itself, right? You made the comment based on hearsay of others (television, media, movies etc). Not on actual experience.
It was based on news stories reported in a number of reputable sources. Not on my actual experience of being a black child shot dead, obviously. They are not in a position to tell their own stories but that doesn't diminish the reality of those stories. I was thinking of Tamir Rice, but Tyre King is another example and there are more. If you want to call New York Times articles "hearsay" go ahead. But the point of journalism is that we don't have to be omnipresent ourselves to learn what is happening in the world.

Obviously not all police do this, but it was less of a stereotype and more of a comment that people in marginalized communities who are stereotyped often are at risk from the very people who are there to protect the community and that not to have to worry about the effects of stereotyping is, indeed, a privilege.
 

Peregrinopaul

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Sanabres (2018) Frances reverse(2018)
While I was looking for an article with relevant information, another article popped up that caught my attention.
Anyway, some of you may enjoy it: Cuando Martin Sheen se metió a peregrino - El Correo Gallego. The author writes in 2018 and looks back at what they (in Galicia) thought about it when they first heard in 2009 or so that Martin Sheen was going to do a movie about the Santiago pilgrimage, and how it panned out in the end: this movie, being an American movie, could have been much worse ... ☺.
Thanks for having posted this Katharine. I finally got around to reading it, (in rather atrocious google translate), and as predicted I DID enjoy it. It was interesting to me that Martin Sheen's fame - at least to the writer and possibly to Spaniards in general - derives from the movie "Badlands" made almost 50 years ago, and which I have mentioned in a previous post.
The Xunta's investment obviously paid off, and must be a positive from their point of view.
 

Peregrinopaul

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Sanabres (2018) Frances reverse(2018)
...and sorry about your name. My iPad autocorrected!
 

Peregrinopaul

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Sanabres (2018) Frances reverse(2018)
No worries. It could have been worse :).
No worries? Kather1na you have mastered Australian vernacular!
Or maybe you are secretly Australian?
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia (May 2016)
C. Frances (Sept 2017)
Camino Portugues (June 2019)
Racism and the higher likelihood of African Americans being targeted by the police (not All police, but enough to be a problem) is not "hearsay". I will not debate this on this forum, but i just felt i needed to say this.
I was responding to what i thought was a general comment about privilege, race and the police. I gave an example from my country (although i have seen unfortunate examples of police brutality against minority people in other parts of the world, too.) Im sorry it came across as ethnocentric.
 

Matthew Merten

What yellow arrow?
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2018)
Frances (2021)
That would have been me, Paul, and I'm sorry if what I said caused you to be annoyed.
I stand with my opinion, though. Family labor of love notwithstanding, the plot, the overly dramatized events, and the scrambled geography are pure cheesy Hollywood, nothing to do with anyone's heritage or with the camino as it really is. So you're more than welcome to give it a break, but my opinion is different.
There is an Interesting foundation lodged in your opinion. It reminds me of how I had to overcome some black-and-white thinking while on my first pilgrimage on the Camino. Is it walking only? Does a person have to carry at least 10% of their weight the entire time? Should the newbie hordes stomping and chattering from Saria actually consider themselves a Pilgrim? Or, should an influential movie be insulted because it didn’t precisely portray the unportrayable? My experiences, although profound to me, can never be fully understood by anyone else, even by another pilgrim.

Yes, my pilgrimage brought me face to face with Some of my prejudices and I was humbled into a broader acceptance realm. If the Esteves movie convinces an ethnocentric USA American to cross the ocean and wade ankle deep into another culture or two, then that film has made the world a better place, no?
 
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Djimbo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, Leon to Santiago in Sept.- Oct. (2016)
...solo, and again in 2019 with my wife.
I believe that the film is not about the Camino de Santiago... rather, it is a story of the transformation of the Martin Shean character, and the Camino is the vehicle for that change...as it is for most of us (in varying degrees) who have walked the way.
 

Peregrinopaul

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Sanabres (2018) Frances reverse(2018)
I believe that the film is not about the Camino de Santiago... rather, it is a story of the transformation of the Martin Shean character, and the Camino is the vehicle for that change...as it is for most of us (in varying degrees) who have walked the way.
I think you've nailed it in one sentence, Djimbo.
 

truthseeker

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (2018)
The Camino called to me before I had ever heard of The Way. During my year of planning, obsessing, and training for it, I discovered the movie, watched it, and was very relieved to find that it was NOT particularly "hollywood". As for the dramatic nature of it, who among us has not felt the dramatic nature of the relationships made on the Camino, or its emotional upheavals -- insights, revelation at unexpected moments?
 

ginniek

Member
Camino(s) past & future
frances 2017
Just a few semi-related thoughts:

1. I have been a fan of the Estevez family as ensemble actors since Wall Street (1987). That was Martin and Charlie (Sheen).
2. My motivation to walk came from Dr. Victoria Sweet's book God's Hotel, especially when I learned that you could do it a section at a time over several years. She is a physician who also has a Ph.D. in medieval (medical) history. Her book also motivated me to do something similar in a different aspect of European history.
3. Recently I was at a meeting related to my actual job (transportation planning), and somehow we got into a discussion of the Camino, and I emailed links for The Way to people who hadn't seen it but had recently somehow felt the call to go.
 

ginniek

Member
Camino(s) past & future
frances 2017
Someone said earlier that the Sheen family put up their own money to finance the movie but I don't think that's correct. They did not get financing from the Hollywood studios so they looked for and got financing from private investors. And also from some public investors. This may shock or astonish some of you but in Europe it's not unusual that public money is granted for certain film productions.

I remember reading once that the Xunta of Galicia gave them a subsidy. While I was looking for an article with relevant information, another article popped up that caught my attention. It's not easy to read for me and I've used the DeepL translation website so far but I will try to figure it out in a more accurate translation myself later. I find this great to practice Spanish. Anyway, some of you may enjoy it: Cuando Martin Sheen se metió a peregrino - El Correo Gallego. The author writes in 2018 and looks back at what they (in Galicia) thought about it when they first heard in 2009 or so that Martin Sheen was going to do a movie about the Santiago pilgrimage, and how it panned out in the end: this movie, being an American movie, could have been much worse ... ☺.
But I have read an interview with Martin stating that he did have to mortgage his home as security for one of the loans.
 

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