‘Walking the Camino’: A movie, a metaphor, and a pilgrimage
by Kate Neligan
One of the greatest pilgrimages on Earth is walking one of the many routes to the reported tomb of St. James in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Often this trek starts in France and crosses various types of terrain in northern Spain encompassing a 500 mile hike that can take roughly 30 days.
The Camino de Santiago was brought to the public eye in Emilio Estevez’s film The Way starring Martin Sheen. When I first learned about it, I was awe-struck. I didn’t understand why people would volunteer to walk six hours a day, sleep in communal hostels with dozens of others and carry all their belongs on their back for a month. Then I saw the film and most recently the documentary, Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago. Now I understand.
This ancient walk is a metaphor for our life’s path. How we walk the Camino and the challenges we face there are the ones we deal with in all areas of life. It’s been said that “how we do one thing is how we do everything.” Lessons on trust, faith, surrender, love, relationships, release, pain and joy can all present themselves on the Camino. It is a time for spiritual transformation and renewal. People talk about being “reborn” during major life changes and this journey facilitates that experience.
The documentary feels like a fascinating reality TV show, adventure movie and dramatic spiritual film all rolled into one. The characters are colorful and real and their stories are moving, deep, and relatable. Each of the pilgrims came to the Camino for a different reason and each one left changed for good.
After a special screening of this film at the Laemmle Royal Theatre in Los Angeles, the filmmaker, Lydia B. Smith, spoke about her own personal growth as she made the film. She said that the filmmaking path isn’t easy, but when you shift the belief that it should be any different, then everything changes. She also mentioned that it’s not about the end result but about the process we go through as we move forward toward the finish line. In hearing her speak, I realized that making a film about personal transformation is an invitation and initiation to transform your life as well.
Lydia was joined by Betsy Chasse from What the Bleep and the recent Song of the New Earth, as well as Patrick Solomon from Finding Joe on a spiritual filmmaking panel. They shared about how the creative filmmaking process is the same as the hero’s journey and walking the Camino – it’s all a process of uncovering the truth of who we are and why we are here. They each spoke about how they have become better filmmakers even if they once were plagued with self-doubt and the thought “who am I to do this?”
I also loved how they shared that personal transformation films are even better than social issue films because personal transformation ignites collective evolution. My favorite piece of advice that they gave was to find your inner calling because our souls don’t rest until we answer the call. Walking the Camino is a fascinating documentary and will help you decide if this journey is a fit for you. For me, it’s most definitely on my bucket list.Tags: Betsy Chasse, Films are a metaphor for life, Hollywood, Kate Neligan, Personal transformation films, Transformation, Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago