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Strangers on the Earth: A reflective film journey on the Camino de Santiago

In director Tristan Cook’s impressionistic documentary, we accompany Dane Johansen, who, with a cello on his back, walks the walk and talks the talk.

3.5 out of 4 stars

Title
Strangers on the Earth
Directed by
Tristan Cook
Starring
Dane Johansen
Classification
G
Country
USA
Language
English

It sounds like a dance, but one does not "do the Camino" in the way that one would do the Macarena. It's a pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago – Europe's most famous path, walked by staunch hikers in search of different things, carrying their burdens as if they were backpacks.

In director Tristan Cook's impressionistic documentary, we accompany Dane Johansen, who, with a cello on his back, walks the walk and talks the talk. This isn't a precious film: Johansen, for instance, is a bit whiny at the outset. His idea was to record Bach's Cello Suites in 36 ancient churches along the Camino, but ends up giving public concerts instead. It is chillier in Spain than he imagined it would be. It's hard to play his instrument with bone-cold fingers, and he wants some time alone.

But, then, journeys more often than not are not what we expected. And neither is Cook's unpredictable and reflective work, set to a brooding solo-cello score and filled with whatever metaphors you need. We are alone on this trip – take it, and this marvellous film, at your own pace.

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About the Author

Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail. More

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