The Milky Way


1h 42m 1969

Brief Synopsis

Two hobos leave Paris for a pilgrimage to a Spanish shrine. Along the way, they meet different characters and engage in reflections about the Church and God.

Film Details

Also Known As
La via lattea, La voie lactée
MPAA Rating
Release Date
Jan 1969
Premiere Information
Los Angeles showing: Dec 1969
Production Company
Fraia Film; Greenwich Film Production
Distribution Company
U-M Film Distributors
Country
France

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 42m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.66 : 1

Synopsis

Two tramps, Pierre and Jean, on a road near Paris en route to the Spanish shrine of Santiago de Compostela, are approached by a stranger cloaked in black who tells them to father a prostitute's children. Pierre and Jean continue on their journey, encountering various scenes from the history of heretical doctrines pertaining to the six divine mysteries of Catholicism: Christ's dual nature as God and man; the Holy Trinity; free will; the origin of evil; the Immaculate Conception; and the Eucharist. At an inn, the tramps witness an army officer and a priest arguing the question of transsubstantiation as they eat dinner. Their host, indicating a paté, voices the heresy that "Christ is in the host as the hare is in the paté." The priest suddenly becomes convinced of the truth of the heresy, flings his coffee at the army officer, and is led back to the insane asylum from whence he escaped. That night in the woods, Pierre and Jean meet Priscillian, Bishop of Avila, a Latin-speaking shepherd who dispassionately conducts an orgy among his followers to mortify the flesh. The following day, at a swank restaurant in Tours, the maître d'hotel discusses Christ's dual nature with the staff, serves two diners, and shoos away the tramps. In a dungeon, the Marquis de Sade speaks his philosophy from Justine to a pious young girl he has shackled to the floor; and at the wedding at Cana, Christ is seen as a man like any other. The tramps beg food at a picnic at the Lamartine Institution near Bordeaux. Here a young girls' catechism class mounts a stage to declare all heretics anathema; the scene is interrupted by Jean's vision of a pope being executed by anarchists. In an Inquisition setting, a heretic is led away to be burned, and a young priest who questions the purpose of such punishment is told by the Inquisitor that the burnings serve a secular function. Further on, Jean wishes the death of a motorist who has passed them by. An accident quickly brings him his wish; and at the scene the two friends talk with the Devil, who expresses the belief that the damned one day may be saved. A Jansenist nun of the Convulsionist sect has herself crucified while the count who is the convent's benefactor stands by. Afterwards the Jansenist count meets a Jesuit, and they argue theology as they duel and then walk off as friends. As Pierre and Jean reach Burgos, they meet two Protestant students who dispute the doctrine of the Trinity at the disinterment of a heretic bishop. The students flee from the Inquisition into the woods, and the Virgin Mary appears to one of them. At an inn a priest and two police officers sample a ham prepared by the innkeeper. The Protestant student describes to the priest the Virgin's miraculous appearance, but the priest dismisses it as an everyday occurrence. The priest regales the group with the story of a trustworthy Carmelite nun who left the key to her convent's coffer at the foot of the Virgin's statue as she ran away to live with a lover and returned to the fold years later to find that the Virgin had assumed her form to accomplish her tasks over the years. The innkeeper insists that the students occupy separate rooms and warns them to open their doors to no one. The priest asks admittance, and when he is refused, he sits outside their doors to discuss the mystery of the Virgin and the Immaculate Conception. Meanwhile, a pure young woman and a man appear in the students' rooms. The tramps steal away from the inn by night with the innkeeper's ham and reach Santiago de Compostela. They consort with a prostitute who wants them to father her children, fulfilling the prophecy of the start of their journey. The prostitute tells them that the shrine is now empty since the remains in the crypt were discovered to be those of Priscillian rather than of St. James. Christ appears elsewhere in the woods with his disciples. He tells them that he has come not to bring peace but a sword. He restores sight to two blind men, but as they follow him they come to a small ditch which hinders their crossing as if they were sightless.

Film Details

Also Known As
La via lattea, La voie lactée
MPAA Rating
Release Date
Jan 1969
Premiere Information
Los Angeles showing: Dec 1969
Production Company
Fraia Film; Greenwich Film Production
Distribution Company
U-M Film Distributors
Country
France

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 42m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.66 : 1

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Paris opening: March 1969 as La voie lactée; running time: 100 min. Released in Italy in 1969 as La via lattea.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter January 1970

Released in United States on Video February 22, 1989

Released in United States October 12, 1974

Shown at New York Film Festival (Homage to Bunuel) October 12, 1974.

Shooting began August 26, 1968

Released in United States Winter January 1970

Released in United States on Video February 22, 1989

Released in United States October 12, 1974 (Shown at New York Film Festival (Homage to Bunuel) October 12, 1974.)