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Iolanthe's Quotable Viggo

How's the weather where you are today, nice and balmy, hot enough to melt tyres or whipping up an icy storm? Extreme weather is all grist to Viggo's acting mill. When you or I would be collapsing in the heat calling for an iced lemonade, or huddling in our woollies with double thickness thermal gloves, Viggo is packing multiple layers of thick leathery costume under a beating sun, or stripping buck naked and leaping into freezing seas – all the while using the elements to add to the authenticity of the performance and making it look like the easiest thing in the world.

When the elements, the weather and the terrain get tough, Viggo gets going.

Interview with Viggo Mortensen, Oscar Contender
3 September 2009

"When we needed more wind, and after a long dead calm, Viggo sniffed and said: "This afternoon it's going to rain.' And so it was.'

Agustín Díaz Yanes
Reunion with Alatriste in Uclés
Diario de León, by Miguel Ángel Nepomuceno - translated by Paddy
26 June 2005

You made some pretty radical climate shifts during the filming [of Hidalgo], from midwinter South Dakota to the sand-blown heat of the Sahara Desert, and all while sitting on top of a whole lot of unpredictable horseflesh. Was the shooting of Hidalgo as gruelling as it looks?

I wasn't suffering as much as an endurance rider is going to. But you're in the saddle a lot of days, all day long. And you've got your hat and that's about it. And there's dust storms and the elements and just the tiredness, but it's also really interesting.

'King' Star Returns To The Screen, Riding High
By Todd Camp
Star Telegram
6 March 2004

'The crew was a little surpised by the climatic conditions. I remember one time when we were trying to shoot in the Sahara, where you get these atrocious winds; it was hot, there was sand in the cameras. I heard everywhere: 'this is hell!' and, deep down in my heart, I thought 'this is a giggle compared to Lord...'."

Viggo Mortensen on Hidalgo
A Year in the Life of Viggo Mortensen
by Sophie Benamon
Studio Magazine, 2003

Just as they had done for the Wounded Knee reenactment, the dancers took their responsibilities in the ritual very seriously; there was an atmosphere that was created through the sheer earnestness of their effort. It transcended anything else that was going on with regard to the filming of the scene. When the dancers had finished and it became my turn to be filmed observing the dance, a pair of dust devils and weird crosswinds suddenly blew in on what had been a completely still day. As soon as the last take of the scene had been shot, the winds instantly and completely ceased, leaving everyone and everything calm and silent for several moments."

Viggo Mortensen on the Ghost Dance
The Man Who Would be King
By Scott Thill, 2003

Your character's very dapper. Was it tough spending all day in smart suits when you were filming in serious heat?

The stuff we started filming at first was the stuff where Chester [Mortensen's character] was starting to unravel – he was starting to drink more, he was sweaty and kind of all over the place. So it was helpful, because it was still hot in Crete at that time – it worked well for that crumpled, dishevelled look.

Viggo talks about The Two Faces of January
7 May 2014

"Different actors have different processes that they use. What I've seen with Viggo is that he is able to use the environment more so than any other actor I've worked with before to put him where he needs to be emotionally….And maybe it's pouring down rain, and he'll walk away from umbrellas, raincoats. He'll walk away from any tent that's being offered or any blanket to be intentionally cold and wet, and it seems to take him to a place that's quite remarkable. I've seen it happen over and over again in the snow, the rain, cold, the fog – anything that he is able to use that puts him in the world of the character. He's a very physical actor as well, and it's been a remarkable process to watch that. I would imagine it takes an enormous amount of concentration to be able to not let the cold ground or the rocks on the road or whatever it may be break your concentration, but it's taken him to a place that is pretty amazing over and over and over again."

Simmons (producer) The Road
Interview with Viggo Mortensen, Oscar Contender
3 September 2009

"The waterfall was the coldest thing I've ever swam," said Smit-McPhee, who noted that, luckily, the production had brought in a "portable Jacuzzi" to warm the actors back up. After two takes, though, Smit-McPhee had had enough. "Seriously, that was it. And I said, 'I'm not doing it.' And then Viggo came. He just jumped in the water like it was nothing."

Viggo Mortensen: 'A Grown Man in an Era of Boys'
Jay A. Fernandez
Risky Biz
12 September 2009

How was it to jump in the ocean?

It was very cold. I asked for another take, but they were terrified. They didn't want me to. They had ambulances. The water was 41 degrees Fahrenheit, and the wind was just really blowing. The air temperature was the same, but because there was howling wind, I was practically frozen. I think the air was probably freezing. It was so extreme. They had an ambulance and they had all these heaters on, and I just sat in there with a bathrobe and said, "Just tell me when you're rolling. I'm just going to run out and go."

Interview: Viggo Mortensen Travels THE ROAD
Christina Radish
9 November 2009

'It was a good decision to shoot in the winter because it gave character to the movie. But it put us under more pressure, too, because there were fewer hours of daylight. It was cold, and the weather was quite changeable. But it was beautiful.'

Viggo Mortensen talking about Todos Tenemos Un Plan
Viggo Mortensen's grand plan
Telegraph Men's Style Magazine
By Sheryl Garratt
26 March 2013

During the filming of the pivotal Battle of Helm's Deep in The Two Towers, he said, "We shot for three and half months straight of night shoots in the cold, wet weather. And that was pretty tough for everybody concerned.

"But it kind of drew everyone together at the same time. It created kind of a special bond with people who went through that together."

Viggo talking about The Two Towers
Ready for Round 2
By David P DeMar, Jr
Watertown Daily Times
15 December 2002

'We were dirty, freezing cold or dying of heat. We were really uncomfortable. That was the beauty of the project. I felt like it was true.'

Viggo Mortensen
The Lord of the Rings: The Untold Story
By Ian Nathan
December 2004

He seems to gravitate towards films that involve wet, cold and physical privation. ''I suppose I must thrive on it,'' he agrees, recalling shooting The Road under heavy cloud, sometimes in snow, always in the cold. ''Sometimes it's tiring or annoying but there is a certain satisfaction, especially when you're going through it with the crew and everyone is wet and cold with you, when you go and have a drink together at the end of the day and say: 'Well, we got that done.'''

Walking at world's end
By Stephanie Bunbury
14 January 2010

You will find all previous Quotables here.

© Viggo-Works/Iolanthe. Images © New Line Productions Inc.

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Venice Film Review: ‘Far From Men’

Source: Variety.
Found By: Chrissie
Chrissie brings us the first review of Loin des Hommes/Far From Men.
© One World Films.
by Peter Debruge

The existential questions Albert Camus raises in his short story "The Guest" translate exceptionally well to the Western genre in "Far From Men," which stars Viggo Mortensen as a colonial schoolteacher tasked with transporting an Arab farmer accused of killing his cousin to trial. While the film isn't as tense as "3:10 to Yuma," nor energetic enough to overcome its niche status, writer-director David Oelhoffen's idea of approaching this potent two-hander as an Algeria-set horse opera proves as inspired as it is unexpected. By treating the story's epic High Plateau vistas the way John Ford did Monument Valley, Oelhoffen amplifies the moral concerns facing characters living just beyond the reach of civilization and law.

Whereas some actors have yet to master their native tongue, in this touchingly humane performance, Mortensen convincingly adds French to the already impressive list of languages he can speak onscreen — a list that includes English, Elvish ("The Lord of the Rings"), Danish ("Jauja"), Spanish ("Alatriste") and Lakota ("Hidalgo"), for those keeping track. Coming from anyone else, such verbal versatility might amount to showing off. But despite his movie-star reputation and looks, Mortensen remains a remarkably humble screen presence, a trait that's perfect for a part that demands considerable empathy from whoever's playing it.

What slight trace of an accent Mortensen brings actually suits the role of Daru, who is described as the Algerian-born son of Spanish parents — nicknamed "caracoles," or snails, because these settlers carried their possessions on their backs, viewed as outsiders to both the native Arabs and conquering French. But the character initially comes across more mysterious, defined by his decisions long before we learn his background.

Oelhoffen first shows Daru at the blackboard of his rural classroom — the lone building as far as the eye can see — where he teaches French geography to Algerian kids who will almost certainly never visit the land of their colonizers, but whose parents have already begun to demand their independence. Things have become dangerous for Daru here on the frontier, and though the film takes place in 1954, the year the country's National Liberation Front began its bloody uprising, the world looks primitive enough that it could be set nearly a century earlier on the Wild West frontier.

Just as Daru is debating whether to stay, understanding full well that he does so at his own peril, a lawman arrives dragging a bound man (Reda Kateb) behind his horse. This is Mohamed, who could just as easily be a captive Native American: He is accused of murder and must be delivered to Tinguit, where a court will decide his fate — not that there can be any mystery how the case would go, since he has already confessed to the crime.

For Camus, tough choices reveal one's true character, and here, Daru refuses to be responsible for dragging a man to his death. What he doesn't realize is that Mohamed has a strategic reason for wanting to stand trial, since has unwittingly started a feud that requires the dead cousin's surviving relatives to avenge his murder, which would in turn provoke Mohamed's siblings to retaliate and so on in a vicious cycle. "Getting killed by the French is the solution," he says.

And so Daru agrees to accompany Mohamed, insisting on treating him like an equal (or "guest," per the story's original title). Oelhoffen has no reason to rush their trek, inventing a few key run-ins with parties on both sides of the emerging civil war not only for dramatic interest, but to further explore the code of honor at play here: Daru, who fought as a reserve officer during the war, has tried to put violence behind him, and now he is called upon to kill if necessary in order to protect an admitted murderer. The pic doesn't limit its penetrating character questions to the white man either, giving Mohamed a chance to prove that he's not without courage or honor — a gradual, subtly acted redemption that takes Kateb from cowering animal-like at Daru's mercy to standing tall and equal beside him by the pic's end.

The short story concludes with Daru giving Mohamed a choice whether to turn himself in or to escape to the desert and live among the nomads, and despite this act of kindness (which Mohamed declines, continuing on to Tinguit), his relatives threaten to take their revenge on Daru. Oelhoffen opts to take things in a different direction, which could also be said of his overall approach to the region. Rather than implying danger at every turn, cinematographer Guillaume Deffontaines' stunning anamorphic lensing (so much more expansive than the boxed-in square framing of "Jauja," which also follows Mortensen through desolate landscapes) shows a steady hand and innate respect for the country itself.

Equally original, the score forgoes the tacky exotification of other African pics, as composers Nick Cave and Warren Ellis emphasize the characters' moral tension through a mix of woodwinds and other unconventional sounds, including blowing across champagne glasses. And yet, in both its tropes and themes (including a detour through a frontier brothel), the pic remains a Western, with all the strengths and weaknesses that entails. It may seem too slow, too dusty, too far removed from the contempo world of men to interest large swaths of the audience, but those same qualities are what make it so effective for fans of the genre.

© Variety Media, LLC. Images © One World Films.

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San Sebastian Unveils Latin Horizons Sidebar

Source: The Hollywood Reporter.
Found By: Colette Hera
Many thanks to Colette Hera for bringing this to our attention.

'Land of Plenty' ('Jauja') starring a magnificently moustachioed Viggo Mortensen is one of the standouts

© 4L Productions.
Matias Lucchesi's Natural Sciences and Franco Lolli's feature debut Gente de Bien, which ran in Critics' Week at Cannes are two of the standouts to run in the Latin Horizons sidebar this year at the San Sebastian International Film Festival, organizers announced Monday as they unveiled 14 titles to compete in the section.

Other highlights include Viggo Mortensen starring in Lisandro Alonso's Jauja (Land of Plenty) which won the Fipresci award at Cannes where it ran in the Un Certain Regard section...

San Sebastian runs from Sept. 19-27 in Spain's northern Basque region.

© The Hollywood Reporter. Images © 4L Productions.

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New York Film Festival - Jauja screenings

Source: Film Society Lincoln Center.
Found By: Chrissie
Many thanks to Chrissie for bringing us this info:

The New York Film Festival's schedule is now available and Jauja is screening on the following dates:

7 October - 9pm - Alice Tully Hall

9 October - 6pm - Francesca Beale Theater

Ticket information here.

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Q&A: Viggo Mortensen and David Oelhoffen on ‘Loin Des Hommes’

Source: New York Times.
Found By: Chrissie
Chrissie brings us this interview from the New York Times as part of their Venice Film Festival coverage:
© One World Films.
In David Oelhoffen's "Loin des Hommes," (Far From Men) Viggo Mortensen plays the Algerian-born Daru, part of the French colonial class, who is living an isolated and self-sufficient life in the Algerian mountains, teaching local children to read and write, and — like a good colonizer — the history and geography of France.

But it is 1954 and change is coming. It happens upon an unwilling Daru in the shape of Mohamed (Reda Kateb), a villager whom he is commanded to escort to the nearest town, where the man will be judged — and ultimately executed — for killing his cousin. The difficult journey of the two men across the mountains, and the relationship that slowly emerges is the real matter of the movie, rather than the beginnings of what was to become the Algerian war of independence. But issues of loyalty to race and class, cultural traditions and ideas about whether choice is possible, gradually emerge against the beautifully filmed backdrop of the magnificent, harshly unforgiving landscape.

Mr. Oelhoffen and Mr. Mortensen spoke in separate telephone interviews about the Albert Camus short story, "The Guest," that inspired the film, the political ramifications of the subject, and mastering French and Arabic. Here is an edited version of the conversations.

Viggo Mortensen

Q. How did you become involved in this project? Had you worked with David Oelhoffen before?

A. No, I hadn't. Someone had shown him a video of me speaking French, and he got in touch and asked me if I thought I could do this role. I knew the Camus story, and I thought it was a great application to a larger context. There have been a few movies made about the Algerian war, but none have been nonideological in this way. It's about two men who on the surface seem quite different, but as you go on, you realize that's not really so. I think it's a general rule in art that the more specific you are, the more application your story has. What happens in the film could make you think about Palestine, about the Middle East now, people who don't want to take part in politics or violence, but find themselves in the middle of it.

Q. You've acted before in Spanish, and in this film, you speak in French and Arabic. Was that hard?

A. I grew up speaking Spanish, because we lived in Argentina when I was growing up, and my father is Danish. I think having other languages as a child makes learning new ones much easier. Later, we lived near the Canadian border, and I did French in high school and heard it a lot on the radio. I had a passion for the Montreal Canadiens in the '70s, so I made an effort.

In a way, it ended up being more of a job to work on my French for the film, and change my accent, which was a bit Québécois. Before filming, I mostly worked on the Arabic because I had to learn that from scratch. I learned the basics before we started and we had an Algerian teacher who worked with both Reda and me on the set. There are differences between Algerian Arabic and other strands, so we had to be careful and accurate about that. I actually spoke a lot more Arabic in the film originally, but we cut quite a lot of crowd scenes to focus on the isolation and the two men. It's interesting to work in different languages because it gives you a window into other worlds.

Q. Was the Camus story a strong influence on how you conceived of your character?

A. Both David and I referenced the story as much as possible. I have always admired Camus and thought he didn't get a fair deal from the left in France. History has proven him right; he spoke truth to power and paid a heavy price for it. He thought people should find a way to live together, whatever their differences of skin color or language. I think the character in the story in many ways represents who Camus might have become if he had stayed in Algeria.

Q. The Algerian war of independence is still a controversial and emotive subject in France. Did you feel that history weighed heavily during the filming?

A. This story takes no sides, which is hard to do when it's about the Algerian war. It shows a bit of the horror, the excesses on both sides, and the problem of meeting someone in the middle. It's a hard thing to do and people are averse to it most of the time.

It's a story that shows that people can overcome prejudices they didn't even know they had. Both men have to make an effort to understand something that they thought they knew and in the end they are more alike than different. Daru has a real relationship with the Arabic community but he is distrusted by the French because of that. But for that community, he is also a colonizer who teaches the children about the rivers and mountains of France and the French language. He tries to get away from the politics, going into the mountains, far from everything and trying to do positive things. But it catches up with him, war comes to him as it does to everyone else in his community. The story has a lot of relevance when you think about what's going on today. People are so distracted by their devices, television, their lives that they don't want to think about serious unanswered problems and questions. But sometimes they come and find you.

David Oelhoffen

Q. The film departs from the Camus story in many ways. How did you make those decisions?

A. I had to invent a lot, of course. I read all of Camus, his journalism, everything he wrote about Algeria, where he lived until he was in his twenties. "The Guest" is actually set before the war, but I set the film at the beginning of the conflict. From the start, I felt it could be a universal story rather than a French story, like a western — a collision of two systems of law, with that immensely savage and powerful landscape.

Q. The changing relationship between the two men is key. How closely did you work with Viggo Mortensen and Reda Kateb on the dynamics between them?

A. I worked with them separately because their process is very different as actors. Reda needs to isolate himself to work out his character, Viggo tries to be as much "in" the scene, with as much exterior detail as possible to feel who he is. Both are incredibly hard workers, both had to work on the languages, and there was a lot of respect between them. In any case, it's difficult for things to go wrong when you work with Viggo Mortensen.

Q. Is it politically sensitive for a Frenchman to make a film about the Algerian war?

A. It's certainly still a controversial topic for the French, as is Camus on the subject of the war. He wanted to spare the civilian population, he organized debates, but he was derided, and he still has a complicated reputation in France; it's fashionable to scorn him. I certainly felt there was unease around the topic when we were showing the script around, and maybe that's why we didn't get public money. But in Algeria, I felt there was a warm welcome for the project. In some ways, it's just about two men.

© The New York Times Company. Images © Michael Crotto/One World Films.

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Last edited: 23 September 2014 06:22:59