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9 Great Camino de Santiago Movies: Motivation, Inspiration & Perspiration

This list of Camino de Santiago movies offers a range of documentaries and fiction that explore both the spiritual side of the Camino as well as a glimpses into practical life on the trail.

Camino de Santiago finesterre sign

 Top 9 Camino de Santiago Movies

Modern day Camino movies and books have had a profound impact on the popularity of Spain’s ancient pilgrimage routes. In 2009 German comedian Hape Kerkeling published the book I’m Off Then, chronicling his misadventures on the trail. In 2011, Emilio Estevez directed The Way, the fictional story of a man walking the Camino after the death of his son. These two pop culture phenomena (and the subsequent word of mouth), have help to popularize the Camino and traffic on the trail has nearly doubled in the past eleven years.

I’ve chosen these nine Camino de Santiago movies hoping to inspire you as well. These films and documentaries show a broad range experiences on the trail, from a sincere religious pilgrimage, to dealing with grief, making friends and overcoming heavy odds.

Watch a few, or watch them all, but please know that as you explore these inspiring stories, your Camino journey has already begun.

The Way

The first time I watched The Way, I was laid up in bed recovering from foot surgery. I was hatching a plan to do the Camino as part of a life reset. I watched The Way movie for motivation to stay on the path with my physical therapy, so that I could be healthy when I tackled the Camino.

Now, after having done the Camino twice, a recent re-watch of The Way still has me inspired by movie’s story and its representation of the pilgrim life.

Tom Avery, played by Martin Sheen, has a difficult relationship with his free-spirited son. Tom is devastated to learn that his son died shortly after starting a Camino pilgrimage. Tom goes to St. Jean to collect his son’s remains but makes the impulsive decision to honor him by continuing his Camino. Along the way, Tom befriends a motley crew of fellow pilgrims, each with their own emotional baggage.

The movie presents a pretty realistic picture of the Camino: making friends on the trail, surprising emotional insights, the marathon mileage and great Spanish food. Worth a watch for sure.

My only quibble is that they had several characters walking the Camino in jeans, which would be a most uncomfortable thing to wear while walking 25 kilometers a day. (Hint: use my packing list instead, it’s lightweight but offers everything you need)

“I don’t believe that God litters our lives with obstacles, but he certainly doesn’t just take them away or prevent us from making wrong decisions. He lets us walk the path we choose, and he lets us encounter the struggles of life, hoping we will learn and grow from each experience.”

from I’ll Push You

I’ll Push You

Justin Skeesuck is a loving husband, father and friend living in Boise Idaho and he has a dream to go on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. The trail is hard enough for someone who is completely healthy, unfortunately Justin isn’t. Justin uses a wheelchair due to a progressive neuro-muscular disease. Justin’s best friend Patrick agrees to help him on his Camino quest, by committing to pushing him the full distance. 

When I heard about this inspiring El Camino movie, I asked myself “Can they even do the first day?” (Because St Jean to Roncesvalles is a slog with 27 kilometers of trail and a very steep 1,400 meters of elevation gain.)

“Will they manage the steep, rocky trail to O Cebreiro?” (Which is another long day featuring 700 meters of elevation.)

Spoiler alert…yes and yes. Justin’s grace and gratitude, Patrick’s iron will and the kindness of strangers make this incredible journey happen. Pack your Kleenex, you’re going to need it. 

Read More: I’ll Push You has also been made into a book. If you are a reader as well as a movie watcher, check out my list featuring 32 books on the Camino.

“…because if you’re sensible all the time, you’ll never do anything.”

On the Camino Voyage

The Camino Voyage

I thought it was hard enough doing the Camino on my own two feet, and then, I saw the movie The Camino Voyage.

This determined crew of Irish artists, poets, musicians and stonemasons took a path truly less traveled for their Camino. They rowed a traditional Irish naomboag (rowboat) from Dublin to a Coruña, which is the port closest to Santiago de Compostela. This multi-year, 2,500 kilometer Celtic odyssey took them across the perilous Celtic Sea, through the French canal system and around the Bay of Biscay.

This Camino de Santiago movie comes highly recommended from John Brierly, an Irishman himself who is also the author of the definitive walking guides to the Camino.

Read More: If you are interested in walking guides for the Camino (Brierly or otherwise), check out my article on the best Camino guides and apps.

Camino de santiago movie Footprints the path of your life

“The pilgrimage takes away the noise in one swift blow.”

from Footprints

Footprints: The Path of Your Life

People take a Camino pilgrimage for many reasons. I was looking for a life reboot, while others, like Justin and Patrick from I’ll Push You, seek the challenge of it. For the 12 men in Footprints, it was an intensely spiritual journey designed to help them to face physical and psychological challenges. These men wanted to find out who they are in the face of God.

Father Sergio organized the pilgrimage in anticipation of the 800 year anniversary of Saint Frances’ own Camino journey. The group walked a mix of the lovely Norte coastal and Primitivo routes, taking plenty of stops for blessings, religious services and visits to relics.

This movie about the Camino de Santiago would be really great for a spiritual person interested in the religious aspects of the Camino. The movie may be found on Netflix, but if it isn’t there, check their Footprints website, where you can purchase a DVD.

“I’m ready to stop crying everyday…I’m ready to pack my bags and just walk…I’m ready.”

Erin Dooley

A Way to Forgiveness

In this Camino documentary film, Erin Dooley has been knocked sideways by her husband’s betrayal and a subsequent divorce looming on the immediate horizon. She’s sad. She’s angry. She knows that her best way forward is to forgive him, but isn’t sure how to go about it. 

This documentary chronicles her 800 kilometer (500 mile) pathway to forgiveness on the Frances trail. This is a DIY project, which means that the sound is sometimes iffy and the wide angle of her video camera is disorienting at times. 

But the movie is worth watching for the thoughtful conversations that she has with other pilgrims. Listen to them talk about why and how to forgive, while following Erin’s own evolution on the Camino.

Erin learned a lot on her pilgrimage and she now gives talks on forgiveness. You can learn more about that on her website.

“There may be something beyond…and I don’t know what it is,…this day is what I have now, and there are no guarantees about tomorrow and so I’ll walk this day as best I can.”

Wayne, Six Ways to Santiago

Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago

In 2009, a documentary film crew set out to follow twelve pilgrims on their Camino Frances journey.

This movie about walking the Camino de Santiago features a pretty diverse group of pilgrims. Annie is a spiritually aware woman from LA who struggles with the heavy physical toll that the Camino extracts. Jack and Wayne are retired Canadians in it for a mix of spiritual and historical reasons. Danish Misa thinks she’s going it alone…but then finds herself seeking the company of others. Tatiana is a single mother from France who’s looking for God and walking the Camino with her toddler. And Sam, a clinically depressed woman from Brazil, desperately needs a turnaround in her life.

Each pilgrim is ostensibly seeking something different from the Camino, and yet the movie does a good job of demonstrating some unifying themes. Self-discovery, suffering and seeking are all universal experiences which each of these pilgrims discover in turn.

Phils Camino film

“There’s a difference between cured and being healed.”

Phil

Phil’s Camino

They say that your Camino starts when you step out of your front door, and that’s especially true for Phil. He’s an avid father, husband, outdoorsman and Catholic living on Vashon Island in Washington. He had dreamed for years of doing the Camino. Unfortunately stage IV cancer got in the way by demanding his energy and attention.

Phil decided to create his own Camino by plotting a walking path through his 10-acre lot. One “Phil” lap is just short of a kilometer, so 909 laps represent the full distance of the Camino Frances route. It took him 6 months to complete it, which he managed while also receiving chemo treatments. His at-home Camino helped him cope with the cancer and it gave him unexpected physical resilience.

Annie, from Six Ways to Santiago was quite transformed by her pilgrimage. So, when she heard about Phil, she wanted to bring his story to light through this documentary.

There are two versions of the the film. A 25 minute shorter version, and a 55 minute longer version. If you can only do one, I recommend the longer version. It has quite a reveal, which I won’t spoil here, suffice to say that it warmed my cold cold heart.

Hiking the Camino de Santiago: The Northern Way

This Camino movie is more of a travelogue than a story-telling vehicle. Brian Cox has put together a series of seven episodes on the Camino Norte. It’s a typical travel video done in the style of YouTube, but the episodes are available on Amazon.

Brian isn’t talking about his spirituality, or his struggles. But he his giving you some delicious eye candy that will make you want to hike the Camino Norte. This route traverses the stunning coastline of Northern Spain and is one of the less popular Camino options. So, if you are trying to decide which trail you want to do, or you know that you want to do the Norte and are looking for more info, this is the Camino movie for you.

Stingy Nomads Camino Series

As with the previous Camino film, the Stingy Nomad series is a practical travelogue on the various pilgrimage trails that feed into Santiago de Compostela. In fact, the Stingy Nomads spend two years walking every major Camino trail.

Their videos do a good job of showing you day-to-day life on the trail. You see the varying landscape across different stages and get a glimpse into what it’s like to sleep in a pilgrim albuerge, food on the road and historic sites.

Plan Your Own Camino

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