Strangers on the Earth


Mary D. Fisher Theatre Tue, Jul 3, 2018 4:00 PM
Mary D. Fisher Theatre Tue, Jul 3, 2018 7:00 PM
Film Info
Event Type:Documentary Feature
Release Year:2016
Run Time:97 minutes
Production Country:Spain/United States
Original Language:English, Spanish, German
Cast/Crew Info
Director:Tristan Cook


Europe's most popular pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago attracts wayfarers of all stripes to walk its ancient paths in search of meaning. One such pilgrim is Dane Johansen, an American cellist who ventured to walk the Camino with his instrument on his back, performing music for his fellow pilgrims along the way.

“Strangers on the Earth” follows the extraordinary — almost foolishly ambitious — mission of the Cleveland Orchestra cellist to traverse the storied paths of Europe’s famed pilgrimage trail, the Camino de Santiago. Johansen’s singular quest to walk the 600-mile trail carrying his cello on his back sets him apart from most other pilgrims. His goal: to perform and record Bach’s Cello Suites in 36 ancient churches along the way.

As has likely occurred on every Camino pilgrimage since the Middle Ages, Johansen encounters a diverse array of characters: lovers whose entire relationship plays out in a matter of a few weeks; self-styled philosophers; wounded souls recovering from illness or mourning the loss of loved ones. All share the trials and tribulations of the journey along with their personal stories over goat-skins of wine.

The musician — who foresaw the walk primarily as a recording project — is surprised by the demands that greet him daily as he arrives exhausted at each church only to find it filled with an expectant audience. The recordings of his performances of the Cello Suites provide the film's contemplative soundtrack.

An experiential piece of filmmaking, “Strangers on the Earth” brings to audiences a musical artist’s personal journey set against a universal backdrop. The film reveals the shared experience of the pilgrims who walk the Camino, finding common patterns in both the multitude of bodies who move westward on the path each year (the physical) and the inner life of these same individuals who are often surrounded by other pilgrims — but are very much alone.

“Over 300,000 people walk the Camino every year now. It may just be a line on a map that connects point A to point B, but this particular path is loaded with meaning and metaphor, and that makes it a great cinematic subject.”

“Beautifully filmed. Profound and honest.” — Vancouver Observer

“Transcendent, enlightening, and even occasionally funny.” — NOW Magazine Toronto

“Europe's most famous path. Take it, and this marvelous film, at your own pace.” — The Globe and Mail