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Peter T Chattaway

The Way (2010)

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Actually it was eligible (the time requirement was waived), just didn't get the votes apparently.


A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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My #1 Film of 2010 gets a follow up!:
 

A letter from Emilio Estevez, writer/director of “The Way.”

Hello to our friends, travelers and fellow pilgrims! 

I open this note with a very sincere and very heartfelt “Thank you.” Since the release of our film “The Way” not a single day has passed without my father Martin and/or I, receiving some form of correspondence in regards to the picture. Be they by email, regular postal service, open blogs or private notifications, they all share one common thread – the film changed their lives in the most profound of ways.
In my thirty years of making films, both in front and behind the camera, I have never experienced such an outpouring of emotion and genuine sentiment towards a motion picture I created.

A small sampling of the correspondence:

“This movie, your movie, that I have watched 3 times in 3 days, has touched me so deeply inside, has connected with me personally, directly, on such a deep level, in a period of personal loss and loss of faith, that in itself it has seemed to provide answers and meaning the like of which I have been seeking for a long, long time.”
Tim - Nottingham, England

“I couldn't find any other email to use and I just wanted to thank Emilio for The Way. I've seen the movie six times at least. It is so refreshing to be able to watch something that moving and beautiful compared to what else Hollywood has to offer. I hope he makes more films like it. Thank you for the gift of this film,”
Terri – Salem, Oregon - October 30, 2013

“I am writing to express, in ways that the limitations of language afford me, how much I connected with your film “The Way”. I have never in my life written to a director or actor, but felt compelled to express my gratitude to you for the creation of the film…..Thank you for taking a chance on this unconventionally amazing film. It touched me profoundly. Peace,”
Maura - Raleigh NC June, 2013

“I just wanted to write and say thank-you to Mr Estevez for making this movie. I walked the Camino last year, I hadn't seen the film but I watched it when I came back and was deeply moved by how it captured the experience. I'm sure this must get asked a million times a day but I've attached my own story in the hope that Mr Estevez can appreciate the impact on and gratitude of so many people in bringing this tale to the public. Once again, thank-you, the film has become a firm favourite of mine.”
Stuart - Oct. 2013

I share these notes not as a boast, but as artist who never realized what an impact this motion picture would have on his fellow man. 

While the film may not have been the commercial success we all hoped it would be, “The Way” has indeed taken on a life all it’s own. The film became a word-of-mouth experience and in country after country, we saw an increase in it’s popularity. This was not as a result of large sums of money spent on huge marketing campaigns, but because people who saw it were recommending it to their friends and families. They purchased multiple copies of the DVD to give as gifts and they hit the download button for multiple viewings on Netflix and other VOD delivery systems.

So….To that end and after careful contemplation and consideration, my father Martin, producer David Alexanian and I, have begun to work on “The Way – Chapter 2.” While I am not at liberty to divulge all the details of the film, I can tell you the following:

“The Way – Chapter 2” will not be a sequel as much as it will be a continuation of the journey. We will not retread The Camino de Santiago, but rather, filming will take place throughout Europe and East Asia.

Many from the original cast will reprise their roles for this production. New cast additions will be made and announced as they join us.

We will send updates to The Way Facebook page on our progress as to casting and locations and start dates for production. In addition, I will be sending tweets from my Twitter handle @EMILIOTHEWAY.

Our goal is to fund the film outside of the 310 and 212 area codes and create an alternative film experience for the millions of film fans who have grown weary of CGI effects and thin storylines. People who simply want to see movies they can relate to. People who still believe that the power of cinema begins and ends with good storytelling. 

We will be posting on how you can become a member of “Team The Way” and have a meaningful impact on the types of films you’d like to see more of in your multiplexes and your in-home theaters.

Will you join us on this journey? 

Emilio Estevez
Nov. 2013

 

Edited by kenmorefield

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Hmmm....another movie from a period where I wasn't at A&F much.

I revisited this fully prepared to be embarrassed by how much I lauded this film, but, you know what? I'm going to double down. It really is a great film that I will nominate for Top 100. 

I don't feel the need to repeat everything I said (or rather linked to) above, but here are a couple things from my notes on this viewing.

  • It was poignant to watch this film during the middle of a global pandemic where everyone (including myself) is practicing "social distancing." A major theme of the film is how pilgrimage (and faith) are both, paradoxically, singular and joint enterprise. (I wonder what happened/is happening to people on the Camino as the regulations clicked in.) Tom's transition from wanting to make a solitary pilgrimage to grudgingly interacting with others, is representative of something important -- how faith gets overlaid with cultural/national identities, in particular American exceptionalism. There is a line in S2 of In Treatment where Paul asks April, "would you rather die than accept help?" 
  • I've been thinking a bit about how to value and rank films for this iteration of the Top 100 based on various historical *threads* of canonicity. (Do I emphasize the originators as historically significant or the films which inherited ideas and techniques that were more meaningful to me.) The shots of Tom catching glimpses of his son in crowds -- the church, the meal table -- are certainly not unique. But they work both as metaphor (we see glimpses of others in places and situations) but as examplles of the Dreyer/Bresson/Schrader thread of showing the transcendent and supernatural in mater-of-fact ways rather than as MIRACLES!!!!!! that are differnet in kind from our daily experiences and perectpions.
  • I have long co-signed the notion shared with me once that the biggest lag between "Christian" and mainstream films is in the writing. There are a lot of little bits of character development here, and these characters are more fully rounded than in most "Christian" films where the development between bad/faulty to good/self-aware must always be short, linear, and without backsliding. My favorite moment in that regard, possibly in the film as a whole is when Tom is leaving the police station after his arrest and asks, "What's the Spanish for 'I'm sorry'?" This is not a transformation, in the Damascus step, but a gradual change. I love, too, the policeman's response. He is still aggravated but he says "Buen camino," while waving him away. Much like Jane Austen in Emma, there is a lot embedded here about manners and social customs/etiquette, with an understanding of the role it can play in keeping us human even when we are emotionally troubled. There's a sort of social contract in the exchange that I think is just a little bit holy. Tom recognizes that even while he is in pain, and while his pain can be used to mitigate responsibility for jerkishness, he is still responsible for treating others with respect and acknowledging his failures. Conversely the cop realizes he doesn't have to give Tom a pass -- he doesn't have to not be annoyed or put out -- but he does sense that Tom is making an effort and the dictates of decency demand that he reciprocate, as much as he is able. (Perhaps I like it because it is the film in microcosm -- a film about pilgrimage that insists that we arrive somewhere not by leaps and bounds but by concrete steps.)
  • I suppose I was aware on some level that Tom was Catholic and that puts a wrinkle on his exchanges with Sarah, particularly about her abortion. It struck me very much this time that she is respectful in the way she talk about it (avoiding the term abortion) and that he doesn't lecture her but rather professes understanding. They find commonality (his Catholicism ingrains in him the extent of evil in hurting a woman, and he meets her on that level) that doesn't eliminate their differences but does make them more...tolerant of them. 

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This is also one of a handful of films that measurably changed my life.  When I first watched it, I was just emerging from a toxic romantic entanglement and was still in an emotional funk (all right, depression).  The Way provided a jolt of shock therapy, telling me I still had three magnificent kids, and I needed to make damn sure I was creating memories with them (not regrets like Tom's missed chances with his son).  It wasn't long after that my younger son and I took a trip to SF and Yosemite together, then Liz and I  departed to Belize and Guatemala the following year (we still laugh about how lime juice obsessed she became, and her freakout over the howler monkey sounds during our first night in the jungle).  Anyone who looks at my Facebook feed (I know, not the most reliable measure of reality) can bring up my photos and see the subsequent adventures that Jessica, Jon, Liz, and Josh have taken together (Cardiff's Doctor Who Experience, neolithic sites, CERN, castles, cave paintings, etc.), to see that the lesson of The Way stuck.  Now, with all of my kids in young adulthood - one about to graduate and go wherever the military orders him, another a committed Francophile and travel junkie - I'm so glad we created those memories.


To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts again.

I watched this film with my church group in January 2019, as we had a couple of congregation members who had done the Camino and then shared about their experiences. 

I have to say, the film didn't strike me a strongly as it did the two of you. While I don't discount many of the positive things you mention, the film ultimately struck me as too polished, the script a bit mechanical and "plotted," for lack of a better term. Like, most of the supporting characters struck me as there to fulfill a role in bringing Tom to where he has to be. Estevez doesn't move way from a very conventional way of presenting the script, leaning on a lot of production and script short cuts, when I think this story would have benefitted from having more room to breath and a less conventional visual style. I also didn't really like the use of musical cues in it. Anyway, this is just from my notes. Not to say I dislike the film; I think it's decent, but I don't see it as being particularly remarkable despite the positive association that I will always think of it as a key "Arts & Faith" film from its many champions on here.


"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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Reviews and essays at Three Brothers Film.

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FWIW, I wrote a review back in 2011 about The Way, where I rated it 3/5 stars, meaning a "good" film. I recall being moved at moments, but also had some of the same criticisms Anders shared about the supporting characters, who really are supporting, i.e. they're present mostly to give Tom someone to encounter or lean on. It did make my wife and I want to go walk the Camino some day.

On more of a personal note, it's both embarrassing and encouraging to reread my old reviews, as I can see how I've progressed and matured as a writer since that time.

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1 hour ago, Anders said:

I have to say, the film didn't strike me a strongly as it did the two of you. While I don't discount many of the positive things you mention, the film ultimately struck me as too polished, the script a bit mechanical and "plotted," for lack of a better term. Like, most of the supporting characters struck me as there to fulfill a role in bringing Tom to where he has to be. Estevez doesn't move way from a very conventional way of presenting the script, leaning on a lot of production and script short cuts, when I think this story would have benefitted from having more room to breath and a less conventional visual style. I also didn't really like the use of musical cues in it. Anyway, this is just from my notes. Not to say I dislike the film; I think it's decent, but I don't see it as being particularly remarkable despite the positive association that I will always think of it as a key "Arts & Faith" film from its many champions on here.

Thanks for adding your thoughts, Anders. I don't necessarily disagree with much of what you say. For reasons possibly on point (possibly) not, I was almost immediately reminded of an exchange I had years ago with Russ (maybe about Les Fils? I forget) where he said "that's not the film we were given." I recall him meaning that there is a difference between criticizing a film for what it does poorly and criticizing it for not doing what we would have preferred that it do. I agree that the film is plotted and fairly conventional (in, for example, its structure and mise-en-scene). But regarding the supporting characters, I honestly don't think their role to illuminate or give him something to react to is much different from, say, Two Days, One Night, The Searchers, First Reformed, Diary of a Country Priest, or some other films that we tend to esteem highly around here. (That's not to say that those aren't better films or that someone can't like one and not the other, just that it makes me less inclined to think of that particular reason/description as being a significant one.)
 

Quote

 I also didn't really like the use of musical cues in it.

FWIW, this is the complaint/criticism that most resonates with me. I didn't write it above (since I was focusing on positives) but I have an early note in my most recent viewing that just says..."Music...Yikes!" I was worried the whole film was going to be as heavy-handed as the musical cues, and I think there was a bit more nuance in other areas, but the musical cues were what they were throughout. 

Then again, another reason I probably didn't mention that is that I don't really feel as comfortable or informed talking about music since I don't really feel like this is a particular area of expertise. I do note this as a rising complaint in a *lot* of my viewing the last couple of years, accelerated, I'm sure, by my teaching the film class and one of my critics group adding a "Best Use of Music" category that makes me attend to and notice it a bit more. But I really haven't gotten much farther than...some commercial films feel really overbearing in their use of music. Aside from just saying that I've come, slowly, to prefer films with less music, I haven't really been able to develop what I think is good or effective uses of music. Maybe that's something you (or Evan) could help me with in subsequent conversations.
 

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