Walking the Camino, a documentary film about the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, a medieval pilgrimage route that crosses the north of Spain from the French border to within 50 miles of the Atlantic Ocean, begins with a close-up shot of bare feet pounding the soil and then moves to a pilgrim sterilizing a needle with which he will pierce a huge blister on his heel. From these opening scenes, the viewer realizes that this film will present an authentic and unvarnished glimpse of what it means to walk the almost 500 miles of the Camino. The film follows six pilgrims in particular as they wend their way through the rain, the pain, the tendonitis, the doubts, and the crazy friendships one makes on the Camino.
Those who have walked the Camino will recognize themselves in the featured pilgrims. Those who have not walked the Camino will gain a better appreciation of the beauty of it, as well as its physical and emotional challenges.
As one enters into the journeys of the walkers, one can find points of solidarity with each pilgrim as he or she copes with:
- struggles with tendonitis and blisters that do not erase smiles and laughter;
- the process of learning what it means to be humbled but also what it means to prevail over aching knees and being left behind by faster walkers;
- the glory, elation and tears that come when one finally arrives at the grand plaza in Santiago;
- the tension of being a person of faith while engaging with irreligious people on a pilgrimage route that, by its very nature, invites a deepening spiritual journey;
- the challenge to remain true to oneself while walking the Camino as an exercise in figuring out who one is;
- pilgrimage as an in-between time: in between jobs, in between moments of grief, in between places;
- the invitation to solitude which can be balanced by companionship and finding out how one can walk with another person in total silence yet find deep intimacy.
Not all is serious: humorous interludes break the intensity of the theme of pilgrimage, whether it is stepping off the path and into cow dung, or kidding around with other pilgrims about the quantity of snoring in a refugio (missing is a conversation about pilgrims rustling their plastic bags at 4:00 in the morning), or walking four kilometers in the wrong direction, or an encounter with cows who are in the middle of the path, or the clacking of other pilgrims’ sticks behind the walker.
Their stories are complimented by stunning shots of the vast expanse of the Meseta, the beautiful broom that blooms alongside the path in Galicia, the endless fields of wheat that overcome the pilgrim, the rain and mud that often accompany the journey, and the racing clouds overhead. The scenery is as much a feast to see as the pilgrims’ stories are to follow.
Producer/Director Lydia B. Smith walked the Camino herself. Her knowledge of and love for the Camino inspires this film which will speak to former, present, and future peregrinos (pilgrims) of the Camino de Santiago.
“It is a long trip; it is not easy; it is not always sunshine; there can be rain; there can be parts of the road that are difficult. It is not a stroll.”
But the inner rewards of walking the Camino are well worth all the struggles.Pilgrim Lee Alison
Completed first Camino over four springs, from 2004-2007 Lee Crawford and her partner, Anne Brown, walked the Camino and Chemin de Saint Jacques from Le Puy, France to Santiago de Compostela (1570 km) over four springs, 2004-2007.