3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Have you ever decided to do something that goes against your very nature and may even be considered crazy by those closest to you? For our team at Reel Dialogue, it could be regarded as a change for us to review a documentary, but for the makers of Camino Skies, the question goes much deeper. They look in on people’s lives as they push to the edge of their physical, emotional and spiritual limitations. Following the travels of six strangers, as they embark on the historic 800km pilgrimage called the ‘Camino de Santiago’ that starts in France and works its way through Spain before finishing in the city of Camino de Santiago.

This is the debut project for the Australian/New Zealand filmmaking team of Noel Smyth and Fergus Grady. The filming crew manages to depict the arduous journey of each of these unique individuals, but manage to show more than the gripping, physical aspects of this challenge. The real story is found in the personal stories of each of the travellers and discovering the purposes for each person as they take on the task of walking across southern Europe. 

The film manages to capture the humanity of each person as they walk along the trail and it exposes the pain, joy and hopes each has brought to the journey. Some look to leave something behind on the path, while others seem to discover something new about themselves and all manage to experience a change in their lives through friendships, physical demands and the introspection that comes from walking 800 kms. From the grief experienced by Julie Zarifeh after losing her husband and a son to the physical milestone of 70-year-old Susan Morris, who had to move past the pain of severe degenerative arthritis and sclerosis, this is a personal journey for all involved. 

The trail and the film are broken up into three components: the physical, emotional and spiritual stages of each present different sides of each person’s life journey. These elements provide a glimpse into how different people deal with grief, pain and relationships. The music and visuals provide a beautiful backdrop for this methodical and introspective experience, but the real value of this tale is found in each personal narrative. Smyth and Grady manage to unpack a balanced depiction of each character and how this journey would come to long-term impact on their lives. 

The Camino de Santiago is merely a trail that winds through the hills and roads of Spain, but what it offers to those who travel on it is something of subjective long-term significance. Similarly, Camino Skies may seem to be a standard documentary, but as viewers go through this visual journey, it would prove difficult to not be impacted profoundly by the personal and special nature of this film. 

REEL DIALOGUE: How do people deal with grief?

Camino Skies brings grief to the forefront of people’s lives. Regret, tears, anger, confusion are some of the emotions that come along during this time in the lives of the who lose a loved one. One thing that can be considered about the message of the Bible is that God is not only there for those who grieve, but that he can empathise with them too. His Son died a horrific death and it allows people to know that they can come to a God who knows how they feel during this low in their lives. 

Questions

1. Does the Bible have anything to say about death? (Ecclesiastes 12:7, John 14:1-3)

2. What can we learn from grief? (Psalm 34:18, 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4)

3. Is God a mystery? (Colossians 2:2-3, Ephesians 3:5)