Emilio Estevez has created a movie about American spirituality in "The Way". He reluctantly travelled to Spain with his father to make the movie about faith, hope and walking - all part of the American way of overcoming hard times.
Estevez's movie tells the tale of four people walking the Camino de Santiago (the Way of St James) through Spain.
“Americans are searching for something,” Estevez said, speaking to The Catholic Register. “The Camino serves as the ultimate metaphor for life.”
Martin Sheen had had the idea for this movie seven years ago. Following a family reunion in Ireland Sheen had travelled to Spain to take part in the Camino, however his schedule on "The West Wing" had meant that his trip was cut short.
Sheen insisted that his son had to make a movie about the trail. Estevez said no but began reading books like Jack Hitt’s “Off the Road: A Modern-Day Walk Down the Pilgrim’s Route Into Spain” to shape the script.
In the movie Sheen plays a 70-year-old American doctor who arrives in Spain to claim the body of his son, who had died on the pilgrimage. He decided to complete the walk his son had started and falls in with a bunch of pilgrims who include an Irishman angry with the Church, a Canadian woman in search of redemption and a lost Dutchman.
Estevez said "None of these characters is in any way perfect. In fact they’re all flawed, broken and not particularly attractive." He said that the end message of their tale is that "we can’t do it alone.”
The director also said that he felt that walking was the first theme in the movie. "“Isn’t it our first instinct?...When we’re babies it’s the only thing we want to do – to get on our two feet and move forward.”
On working with his father Estevez said that getting the walking to look right was difficult. Sheen walked too fast or too confidently.
"I said, ‘Look, you’re fit. You look great. You’re playing a guy who is 70. You are 70, almost. So maybe you could slow the pace down a little bit."
The movie premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10.