Tonight Jeff, Daughter Bee and I saw the new award-winning documentary The World Before Your Feet being screened at our little artsy indie Tower Theater in SLC, Utah.
The film is beautiful, moving, charming, and thought-provoking. The editing, photography, graphics, music & design are brilliant. Bravo, Bravo tutti! 👏👏
Watch the trailer, and then read my detailed review below!
So MUCH time and attention to detail were spent on the project to document 37-year-old Matt Green’s quest to walk every block of New York City – that translates to all 8,500+ miles of roads, paths, bridges, parks, cemeteries, islands, and trails in the greater Manhattan area, spanning its five boroughs.
I particularly loved the music that was selected and written for each scene. As a musician and singer, I’m hyper-sensitive to the incidental music used in films. If music is done well, most people don’t remember the music – only feeling it evokes. The wrong choice can be distracting, and ruin a perfectly good scene. In this film, the score paints the scenes beautifully, with all the right emotions.
As you know, my husband and I recently walked the 100 mile Camino Inglés (English Way) which is one of thirteen Camino de Santiago pilgrimage routes in Spain leading to the sacred burial place of St. James the apostle at the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Hundreds of thousands make this pilgrimage annually. It’s been a longtime dream for us, and this year all the stars aligned perfectly! Our Camino walk was magical! Returning home has been difficult because it’s hard to express to others how meaningful and life-changing it was to walk daily on this challenging and beautiful route. We had so many amazing experiences! I’ve been trying to write it all down, blog and create YouTube videos to share it all – but, it’s hard to find enough time as life keeps speeding by. So, I can really relate to Matt’s similar struggle depicted in the film. Walking along with Matt transported my husband and I right back into that same feeling we had walking in Spain.
Getting outside and connecting with the earth, sky, and elements in a visceral way is empowering for the soul. You see little things no one else would ever notice and would sadly be missed if someone wasn’t walking by being aware of their surroundings and seeing things with fresh eyes. Meeting people, making human connections, having unique moments and fascinating conversations – you find out that everyone you meet can be a new friend. It’s delightful to see that Matt truly has internalized the “Spirit of the Camino“. I can understand why he just keeps walking and can’t bear to stop – because there’s an indescribable peace & connection to your inner self when you are walking along, experiencing the world moment by moment, step by step, breath by breath.
The filmmakers were wise to show the flip side – some unintended negative consequences of Matt’s single-minded quest. Most people strive their whole life to learn how to find some balance and try to live “one day at a time”. Matt seems to have mastered the skill so completely, it is taken to the extreme. There is very little permanence in his life. He quit his successful desk job, he lives minimalistic, he doesn’t have an apartment, he relies on the kindness of strangers (and cat sitting). Indeed, his only real constant is walking every day – and researching. It seems that Matt has a hard time committing to anything with permanence (career, marriage, family)… which means his future is uncertain – [although Matt could rightfully argue all our futures are uncertain].
On the other hand, Matt is such a likable human being, with so many endearing traits; playful personality, brilliant mind, thirst for knowledge, generous and kind – he has so much going for him it’s hard to imagine his future would be anything other than bright. It will be interesting to see how the success of this film may propel Matt’s life in new directions he never expected (and could be uncomfortable for him).
This film offers a lot for pondering. Insights from other distance walkers in the NYC area are shared. Matt’s white privilege is acknowledged – being able to walk through New York anywhere without fear, as opposed to another city walker who, as a black man, shares how he must take extra precautions and carry extra worries Matt never has.
It is poignant to meet the people closest to Matt – his parents and brother – and hear their stories and insights. We also meet two former girlfriends who share their perspective on how this walking quest affected them, and ultimately their relationships with Matt.
My favorite personal moment was meeting the oldest tree in New York City. This was a new discovery for me, and there is a wonderful moment shared under these ancient branches. Also, experiencing the 9-11 memorial night brought tears.
I loved ALL of this film. I would watch it again – right now – in a heartbeat. Our family gives The World Before Your Feet 5 Stars and highly recommend it to everyone!
When I return to NYC, I would love to go on a walking tour with Matt Green. If he doesn’t offer these already, he should- and I’d pay him. Most of all, I can’t wait to go explore the streets of my own neighborhood. No one needs to quit their day job, uproot their lives, or travel to a foreign country to enjoy taking a walk.
There’s so much waiting to discover and enjoy outside our front door! 🚶🚶
¡Buen Camino! – Holly