Movie Review – Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago by Peter Lampp

Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago

1hr 24min, PG

★ ★ ★ ★ ½ stars

Reviewed by Peter Lampp

A woman at our screening who had twice done the Camino pilgrimage said she had prepared for it by hiking the Manawatu Gorge walk.

Despite the blisters we see in this excellent documentary about the renowned pilgrimage from France across the top of Spain, she said the Gorge walk was more taxing.

This doco was every bit as worthy as 2013 film The Way about the same pilgrimage and which screened at Cinema Gold for 25 weeks.

My expectation was that the documentary would not be a patch on The Way, and yet it surpassed it.

Made by an American not-for-profit organisation employing three camera crews, Walking the Camino was cut back from 300 hours of film and followed a dozen intrepid pilgrims from countries as diverse as Canada, Denmark, Brazil and France.

The pilgrims, many of whom are not spiritual types, do the talking and the walking and a little bit of whingeing as they escape the rat race. There is no need for an Attenborough, just a few explanations from Spanish clergy as the film counts down the stops en route .

Some walkers trek happily solo, others match up along the way, friendships blossom and so does a romance. With such panoramic scenery and exquisite cinematography, how could they not.

The walkers are not actors, but they could be. It was so alluring, cute Spanish villages and hostels along the way; it almost provoked me to dig out my dancing shoes. The Camino is a mere 800km after all, just a little longer than the Gorge route.

But being a nostril bugler of high pitch, it might not be the way to make friends. Snoring is an issue on the Camino as pilgrims bunk down at each others’ elbows.

The doco spares us the snoring, the smelly socks and probably the body odour, yet not once did we see an infernal cellphone as everyone luxuriated in the grandeur of the Spanish countryside. But the camera does get up close and personal with bulging blisters on tired feet and dewdrops.

I would eagerly walk, sorry watch, this documentary again. The only anti-climax seemed to be when the walkers reached the end at Santiago de Compostela, where St James’ remains are said to be interred.

It was too much like a city after spending a month or so hiking in the country.



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