Friday, April 13, 2012

The Way (2010)

Emilio Estevez takes his 5th shot at writing and directing in The Way (watch the trailer HERE), an inspiring story about the pilgrimage of life.

Tom (Martin Sheen) is a stoic ophthalmologist who doesn't care much for adventure. He's more interested in his golf handicap than the treasures of the world. His son Daniel (Emilio Estevez) couldn't be more different. After ditching his doctoral work on anthropology, Daniel decides to travel the world and finds himself walking El Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James), a pilgrimage route that runs 800km from France to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

When Daniel dies in a storm in the Pyrenees, Tom decides to finish The Way for (and "with") his son.  Determined to accomplish the task before him, Tom sets out with an iron will and a brisk pace. Like the rest of his life, Tom knows how to get things done, and this pilgrimage will be no different.

But The Way is not a task to be accomplished. It is not a race to finish. It is not the avenue to a desired goal.  No, The Way is itself the gift.  And for Tom it takes three fellow pilgrims to teach him this.  Along the journey Tom discovers the irony that his entire life's vocation has been aimed at helping others see the world better - in vain.  In the end, Tom discovers the wisdom of The Way: "You don't choose a life. You live one."
In Ethics Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes, "We must travel a road, even though there is no road to this goal, and we must travel this road to the end, that is, to the place where God puts an end to it."
What makes this film so beautiful is that each of the four featured pilgrims has their own compelling reason for walking The Way.  Each pilgrim is a seeker, hoping to reach a goal. Yet, in the end, each discovers that The Way was never about escaping their problems but about learning to be broken together. The unpolished crew of pilgrims reminded me of what Bonhoeffer once said: the church can only be the church together as sinners.

Ultimately, The Way teaches that what makes this pilgrimage truly wonderful is companionship. As the poster states, "Life is too big to walk alone."

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