The Pro-Life Message of “The Way” – Opens October 7

The Way will be released in select cities on October 7th.  To find a theater near you, visit the website The film is rated PG-13 for drug use, smoking and thematic elements.

Martin Sheen as "Tom"

Interestingly, the original subtitle for the movie The Way was “You don’t choose a life.  You live one.”  It was changed to “Life is too big to walk it alone,” but the original line is prominent in the trailer and echoes the film’s pro-life message.

The Way is released in select theaters on October 7th, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and in the midst of the 40 Days for Life campaign.  Coincidence?  Perhaps not…

The Way chronicles the journey of a curmudgeonly ophthalmologist named Tom (Martin Sheen) who travels to France to collect the remains of his estranged son Daniel (Emilio Estevez, who also directs the film and wrote the screenplay).   Daniel was the victim of a freak snowstorm in the Pyrenees as he journeyed on the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James), a popular 500-mile pilgrimage route through Spain and France.

On a whim, Tom decides to finish the journey that his son began, his final destination the Santiago de Compostela and the Cathedral of St. James, where the Apostle is believed to be buried.  During the journey, Tom meets three fellow pilgrims who face their own demons.  As the foursome traverse the Camino, they learn important lessons on life and community.

I had the opportunity to talk to Martin Sheen (formerly Ramon Estevez) and his son Emilio Estevez as they travel the US on a bus tour in support of their labor of love.  Mr. Sheen, a devout Catholic, often draws criticism from some conservative Catholics for what they perceive as his liberal stance on social justice issues, but he is passionately pro-life.  The issue is intensely personal for Sheen because his wife, Janet Templeton, was conceived through a rape.  They will celebrate their 50th anniversary this December.

When I asked Mr. Sheen how he could help change hearts and minds in Hollywood regarding pro-life issues, he replied, “I try to live the reality of pro-life.  We have four children, and I’ve often said my only regret in having four children is that I didn’t have four more.  I have seven grandchildren and not all of them were planned, so our lives are a reflection of what we believe about life.  I also believe in the seamless garment.  I’m opposed to the death penalty and war as well.  Any destruction of life is an affront, I believe, to God.  I don’t distinguish the death penalty from abortion.  I think they’re both wrong.  As far as influencing others, frankly I don’t try.  I can never change the world.  The only one I’ve ever had any effect on is myself, frankly.  I think if we have any effect, it’s by our fruits that we will be known.  I’ll let my life reflect how I believe and how I feel about certain issues.”

Although not formally attached to any particular faith, Emilio Estevez frequently mentions the words “God” and “miracles” during the interview.  When asked about the “Choosing a life versus living one” line, Emilio declared, “For me, it means being in life and living life and jumping in, being open to the possibility of anything, whether it’s a journey, a faith conversion, a re-conversion – no matter what – that you would be open to the possibility of everything.  We often get stuck in our routines, and it often looks hopeless to break the chains of those routines.  Step outside yourself and be a tourist in the world again.  Live in wonder and look up.  The iPods and iPhones and computers make us look down.  I think what Daniel is saying to his father in that scene is ‘You’ve got to wake up.  You’ve got to get outside of yourself.’”

Emilio adds, “There is a very strong pro-life message, and we give a voice to the unborn through the character of Sarah [a Canadian pilgrim] who has made this terrible, terrible choice that has left this enormous hole in her heart.  She shares with Tom that she’s hearing the voice of her unborn daughter.  It doesn’t sound too crazy to him because he’s seeing the vision of his deceased son.  In that moment they share a bond.”

Time will tell if audiences connect with The Way, but perhaps the Blessed Mother has an interest in this project.  I discovered that the original release date for the film was May 13th, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima.  Martin Sheen is very devoted to the Rosary and began his multi-city bus tour only after reciting Our Lady’s favorite prayer.  Consider Mary’s words at Fatima, “My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.”

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About the Author

Peggy Bowes is a freelance writer and the author of The Rosary Workout. She graduated from the US Air Force Academy in 1988 and served nine years as an Air Force pilot. After leaving the military to raise a family, Peggy pursued her lifelong passion for fitness, becoming a personal trainer, Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant, and aerobics instructor. Peggy is also very active in parish life. She has been a lector, CCD teacher, and Little Flowers Girls' Club leader. She enjoys triathlons, hiking, adventure races, and other sports as she incorporates all the benefits and blessings of The Rosary Workout. Peggy and her husband and two children currently reside in North Carolina.

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