There’s a tradition in Spain that goes back thousands of years with a clear international vocation: El Camino de Santiago. In 2019, and before the coronavirus shook the world, over 350,000 pilgrims, more than half of whom were from abroad, travelled its byways. With the Xacobeo (Holy Year) scheduled for 2021, why not do a series about a group of friends of different nationalities and their relationship with the Camino?
Amazon must have thought something like this when it gave the green light to “3 Caminos“, which will be available from Friday January 22nd on the platform, with a mixture of comedy and drama about five young people who meet on the Camino de Santiago, and their lives throughout three different periods, 2000, 2006 and 2021. Produced in Spain by Ficción Producciones, and in Germany and Italy by Beta Films, with the collaboration of 329 Studios in Korea and Cinemate in Portugal, this series is also sponsored by Portuguese Radio Television, Galician Radio Television and a host of local groups and Spanish city councils, and you only need to watch the credits to see how many.
Based on this starting point and focusing on the drama, the five friends try to represent the diversity (and stereotypes) of the young people who walk the Camino. Roberto (Álex González, “El Príncipe”, “Vivir sin permiso”) is a Mexican firefighter of Spanish origin who carries around a double dose of guilt in his backpack: the accidental death of a Spanish doctor in Chiapas during an earthquake and his emotional breakdown. Raquel (Verónica Echegui, “Yo soy la Juani”, “Explota Explota”) is an impulsive young Spanish woman who, after committing to going, decides to take on the Camino de Santiago as her own personal bachelorette party.
Jana (Anna Schimrigk, “The Aftermath”) is a furiously anti-establishment German who approaches the Camino to fulfill her twin sister’s dream after she becomes hospitalized with a serious illness. Yoon Soo (Alberto Joo Lee, “Tapas”, “The Boat”) is a Korean musician who, after a stint of compulsory military service in his home country and fleeing the overcontrolling grasp of his father, goes in search of himself on the Camino. And Luca (Andrea Bosca, “Quantico”) is the Italian playboy of humble origins and high social aspirations who uses his charisma and good looks to win over the world.
As such, the Camino acts as a catalyst and an excuse to bring them together at the differentperiods where we observe their lives. Since they met, full of dreams and hope; until they return, marked by disappointment, fear, and remorse; and finally when they reconcile with the decisions they have taken along the way and, as a result, with themselves. “Three different years, three paths, three stages of life”, as the synopsis tells us.
The passage of time, friendship and love are the main themes of “3 Caminos”, a series that overdoes the intensity when it comes to narrating the dramas or joys of human existence. In fact, maybe they over-insist on the spiritual journey and the supposed redemptive capacity of the Camino de Santiago, while the physical journey seems like a stroll in the park considering the clothes they wear, the huge but light bags they carry and the ease of effort with which it sometimes appears that it takes, including parties until the wee hours and shelters that look like something out of a glossy interior design magazine.
“This journey itself entails much more than a collection of stamps”, “The Camino is a journey, an inner journey to Santiago de Compostela” or “It is the connection between heaven and earth”, are just some of the ways in which the characters describe the Camino and the experience. And even the soundtrack, an indie music fan’s dream, doubles down on what our characters are already saying, and the footage depicts.
The central theme of the series, “Caminantes”, was composed by Iván Ferreiro and Andrés Suárez and the series also includes “Fantastic Shine” by Love of Lesbian, “Bon Voyage” by Annie B Sweet, “En el Espacio” by Leiva, “Santiago” by Fredi Leis, “Ella” by Bebe, “Entre One” by Sol Seppy, “ Back, back” by Vicente Fernández and “La Bámbola” by Patty Pravo.
With a budget of six million euros, the one that really shines is the Camino de Santiago. Although filming was concentrated in Galicia, the protagonists travel from San Juan de Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela, allowing audiences to delight in the spectacular landscapes of Navarra, La Rioja, León, Burgos and Palencia. An “international showcase of tangible and intangible heritage” that surrounds the Camino de Santiago and the towns it meanders through along the way, according to the governing body, or Junta of Castilla y León. It’s that, plus a breathtaking postcard that, as with the characters, changes over time.