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Viggo Mortensen - "Im Filmgeschäft passieren wundersame Dinge"

Our thanks to Chrissie for bringing us this nice clip.

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© BR Mediathek.

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A Conversation with Viggo Mortensen at Cannes

Source: The Huffington Post.
Found By: Lindi
Our thanks to Lindi for bringing us this piece from the Huffington Post.
Viggo during press promotion for "Jauja" at Cannes - May 2014
Viggo during press promotion for "Jauja" at Cannes....
© Huffington Post.
I met with Viggo Mortensen here in Cannes, to discuss his role as the star of Lisandro Alonso's film Jauja, which premiered here this week. Wasn't it difficult for Viggo to take a role in such an elliptical film? An experimental movie, it is never entirely clear what Jauja is about -- and as the director told me, he likes it this way. All we know is that a Danish captain shows up in Patagonia in the 1882 with his fifteen-year-old daughter, to help an army fight against the indigenous people, and then the daughter disappears, leaving him to wander in the desert. He searches endlessly for her: rather like the two "Jerry" characters in Gus Van Sant's eponymous flick, who also wander lost in the desert.

How did Viggo manage to enter into his character in such an enigmatic script? He seems to exist only as a metaphor for the human condition: the continual search for something we can never find. I imagined it would be impossible to even come up with a back story.

"It was not difficult at all," Viggo said, leaning forward and staring at me with serious eyes. "I was not vague about who I was, despite the existential script. I play a Danish captain, in 1882. I play a northern European, a surveyor and scientist who is very rational in his thinking, always finding a logical reason. For example, in the first scene, when he first arrives to this new country with his daughter, he is trying to understand what the military man he meets is talking about; first thing, he asks and then gives his opinions about this mysterious information. Same with the mysterious old woman he later meets in the desert. The presence of that old woman does not make sense. He asks himself: 'What is this?' He is old fashioned; he is a guy from the country. When he does not understand, he asks. My character is in the same position of the audience -- trying to figure out what is happening."

"It's rather like Don Quixote," he continued, in as easy and clear a manner as his director had been abstract and vague. "Don Quixote is both serious and specific."

Viggo had very definite ideas about his craft: They came to the fore in this film.

"If you want something existential and universal too, you need to be specific and detailed; you need to give it weight. The more specific you are, as an actor, the more you can make a leap The Danes were involved in two wars in the 1800s: in 1848 and 1864. For my role, I found a uniform from this 1848 war, as well as a saber from this war, and a double-medal for a man who served in both wars. This medal was very important. Most of the people back then were farmers, but they would be out with the pigs, with their medals, that is how important these medals were."

But did he see his character evolve in this film? The one refrain repeated in the film is: "What makes a life function and move forward?" Where does this wandering Captain get to at the end?
Viggo during press promotion for "Jauja" at Cannes - May 2014
Viggo during press promotion for "Jauja" at Cannes....
© Huffington Post.

"Yes, he does evolve," Viggo's eyes lit up. "And his evolution lies in the very fact that by the end of the film, he is asking that question: 'What makes a life function and move forward.' And he says: 'I don't know' and smiles. He accepts that he cannot control it."

But what has gone on in that hallucinatory journey in the desert? Is the old woman he meets his daughter stuck in time or an arbitrary woman or... ?

"She could be a dream, or the daughter, or the dream of a dog. It doesn't matter."

It did not seem to matter for the audience at Cannes as well. They had clapped enthusiastically at the end of this inchoate film, which ends with a scene that begs to be deciphered (suddenly we are in a house!), as if they had not only accepted but adored the existential adventure for what it is: a sublime experience of our existential wandering through time.It was a surprising reaction, since some of Alonso's previous films have been disparaged as "pretentious."

"This film is not pretentious," Viggo asserted, speaking even more passionately about the film than the director, whom I had spoken to just a moment before. "Each step follows the next. Lisandro's thought is every bit as innovative as Tarkovsky's, in terms of visual poetry, and in this case, spoken poetry."

Viggo's involvement in the film was not just as an actor. He had even collaborated with the Lisandro, helping him choose music for it. "Lisandro told me he wanted to have a break between scenes, and I said you should listen to Buckethead, very strange music, to shift the tempo. I happen to know Buckethead personally, as I had done some work with him." He had also discussed the film at length with the Argentinean director, in Spanish, of course. Viggo had spent his childhood in Argentina.

It was the first time I had interviewed an actor who seemed so heartily on the same wavelength as his director.

"Oh but I have had the same kind of collaborative approach with other directors," said Viggo, calmly. "For example, Cronenberg.I always try to work with the director. I can do a better job if we understand each other."

Viggo has made two films with Cronenberg. How did it feel for him to play now in a low-budget film?

"The budget of this movie?" he said. "It doesn't matter what the budget of a film is, or if there is a crew of ten or twelve: the relationship with the camera is still the same. In fact, the more expensive a film is, the less likely that it is going to be different from another movie. If it's an expensive movie, the investor wants some guarantee for a return: either well-known actors, a director who is known to make money or a story that has made money before. The chances are slim that you are going to make something original, a film in which you break with conventions of time and space, and shot selection. You will get nothing like what Lisandro is doing."

Although, he admitted, some expensive movies -- "like Avatar and Lord of the Rings -- are really interesting."

Did he have some criteria for choosing the next film he would act in?

"Yes, I do have criteria. All I am looking for is a movie that I would be able to see in twenty years and be proud of."

© The Huffington Post.

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Review: Jauja

Source: Screen Daily.
Found By: Chrissie
Categories: Media Reviews Movies Jauja
Chrissie brings us this review from Screen Daily.
© 4L Productions.
by Jonathan Romney

A man makes his way very, very slowly across a desolate Patagonian landscape. This far, at least, we're in familiar territory with Jauja, the latest from Argentinian director Lisandro Alonso, Latin America's foremost exponent of what's come to be known, for better or worse, as 'slow cinema'. But both in its tone and in the twists of what proves a stranger journey than usual, Jauja is a singular departure for a director who has hitherto specialised in something that, however stylised, has recognisably been essentially realism.

A more magical, philosophical and indeed surreal trip than we're used to from him, Jauja is likely to divide Lisandro's admirers, purists liable to balk at the story's dream elements. The film is unlikely to score Lisandro a cross-over hit, exactly, but its mystical dimension, plus the presence of Viggo Mortensen in the lead, should bolster its cult appeal considerably. Beyond very niche export prospects, expect Jauja to be hotly debated at festivals.

The film is also Alonso's first historical drama, and his first - improbably - in the Danish language. A title card tells us of a fabled El Dorado-like land known as Jauja, which many have sought in vain, getting lost along the way - which sets up for the sort of drifting peregrination that we're used to from Alonso. But it's clear from the film's first few highly composed, hotly coloured images that we're dealing with something very different from usual.

The film is shot in boxy Academy ratio, with rounded corners on the frame adding to the sense that we're looking at an echo of silent cinema. The film is indeed set in the 19th century, in 1882 in the desolate expanses of Patagonia, where Danish army officer Dinesen (Mortensen) is leading an expedition, presumably to Jauja, accompanied by his 14-year-old daughter (Agger).

One of Dinesen's men, seen at the start masturbating in a rock pool, has designs on the girl - and before long, she leaves the seal-inhabited coastline where the action begins, to head inland, eloping with a young soldier who becomes her lover. Dinesen takes off in pursuit, aware that the territory is frequented by a soldier who has reputedly gone native, in time-honoured and brutal Colonel Kurtz style.

After a long introductory section featuring more dialogue than we're used to from Alonso - the poised, somewhat literary tone of these scenes recalling Manoel de Oliveira - much of the action then follows Dinesen alone on horseback as he makes his way through a strikingly stark desert landscape. After a bloody encounter that comes as a bolt from the blue, he proceeds on foot through mountainous terrain - with Mortensen athletically earning his fee through some hard slog - before mysteriously acquiring a stray wolfhound as guide.

What happens next - an encounter in a cave with a strange elderly woman (Norby) puts the film into an entirely different register of reality - but that's nothing compared to a coda which comes in from left-field and will leave viewers either delighted or scratching their heads raw.

As ruminative as Alonso's other films, Jauja ends up taking us to completely unfamiliar terrain, the film hinting at the sort of mystical or metaphysical journey one might normally associate with films such as Jodorowsky's El Topo or indeed 2001: A Space Odyssey (obliquely hinted at in the coda). Timo Salminen's photography makes the box if the unusual ratio, the images precisely composed, whether people are in imposing close-up or way off in the desert distance, with reds, greens and blues magnetically heightened. Alonso co-wrote the script with poet Fabian Casas, and the effect is nothing if not poetic.

© Screen Daily. Images © 4L Productions.

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Viggo Interview at Cannes

Source: La Razon via Entorno Intelligente.
Found By: Chrissie
Thanks to Chrissie for this latest interview from Cannes.

"Esta película no tiene nada que ver con el circo de Cannes"

Bajó diez grados la temperatura, el cielo relampaguea y sopla un viento huracanado que despobló las playas de Cannes. En la zona del puerto, donde yates, botes y otros lujos náuticos se agolpan, hay un stand armado para la prensa al que se llega por una suerte de muelle. En remera y jeans, Viggo Mortensen se banca el fresco. El danés (aunque también norteamericano y argentino) entiende de fríos y dice que "esto es el Caribe". Llegó al Festival sólo por 48 horas y para "hacerle el aguante a Lisandro". Traducción: Viggo se corrió a Cannes, desde Madrid, para respaldar a "Jauja", la película del argentino Lisandro Alonso que compite en la sección de autor "Un Certain Regard".

No muchos colegas tuyos hacen lo que vos hacés...

¿A qué te referís?

A esta cuestión de decir presente, de "contá conmigo". Hay muchos egos...

Pero cómo no voy a estar si es una película que me dio mucho placer hacerla. Casi como que yo le pedí a Lisandro que me tuviera en cuenta. Mirá, tengo 55 años, yo tengo ganas de hacer el cine que quiero ver.

¿Cómo es eso de que pediste que te tuvieran en cuenta?

Yo soy muy amigo de Fabián Casas, un poeta y escritor con quien, además, compartimos los colores -casi de manera enfermiza- por San Lorenzo. Me contó que su amigo Lisandro, a quien yo conocía, estaba preparando una película con guión suyo y me propusieron participar. Nos encontramos, me contaron la idea de la película, bastante experimental, sobre una leyenda mitológica llamada Xauxa. Me dijeron que mi rol sería el de un militar danés y arrancamos un trabajo de equipo muy interesante. Yo me re-embalé. Hasta colaboré con música ejecutada por mí.

Con su porteño acompasado, Viggo habla con una parsimonia que en Cannes es mala palabra, ya que aquí todo es vorágine, vértigo y pocos minutos. "Estoy un poco cansado de los tiempos de los festivales. Me gusta disfrutar más y si estoy charlando con vos, no quiero mirar el reloj ni a la persona que hace señas detrás", señala con firmeza y sin casete.

Ya lo habías sugerido en "Todos tenemos un plan", película con la que volviste a la Argentina. ¿Disfrutás más estas producciones sobrias, no tan imponentes como podría ser "El señor de los anillos" o "La carretera"?

Puede ser. Estoy en una etapa de la vida que priorizo más lo artesanal por sobre lo industrial. Más el detalle de un gesto, o el sonido natural de un molino, que los efectos especiales de un monstruo. A Hollywood le agradezco, pero también le escapo, hace mal consumir sólo ése cine.

¿Te sentís cómodo filmando en Argentina?

Me siento como en casa. Pero sobre todo, me volvió a pasar algo muy fuerte (se toca el pecho), me movilizó mucho, me emocionó rodar donde estuvieron mis padres, donde yo pasé parte de mi infancia. No me da lo mismo rodar en Argentina que en Nueva Zelanda. A mi edad lo que necesito es sensibilizarme con ciertas cosas.

¿Qué más necesitás?

Que me traten con respeto, con cariño, como persona. Y donde también me permitan participar en ideas, decisiones... Lisandro, a quien admiro y le veo cosas de (David) Cronenberg, me dio mucho lugar en la concepción de la película.

Lisandro Alonso no lo va a poder creer. Todos tus elogios y vos protagonizando su primer film con actores profesionales.

No es un favor que yo le hago a Lisandro, él tiene un talento inmenso. "Jauja" es una película para pensar, para saborear. No tiene nada que ver con todo el circo que se ve en Cannes. Yo vine aquí porque estoy orgulloso de haber formado parte de este trabajo.

¿Qué te aportó hacer una película más experimental como "Jauja"?

Perdonarme como actor, porque yo me he equivocado varias veces, tuve decisiones erradas. Y "Jauja" me reconcilió con el oficio.

¿Eso lo dice el actor de "El señor de los anillos", "Promesas del Este" y quien encarnó a Freud...? Parece una broma.

Yo soy un tipo bastante común, aunque suene a cliché. Hay momentos para cada película: para tanques, para cine de autor, para más experimentales. Pero yo elijo historias que resuelvan preguntas cómo "¿qué es lo que quiero de mí en la actuación?" o "¿es la vida profesional que quiero?".

Imagino que no tenés una buena relación con la fama...

Aprendí a convivir con ella. No me queda otra. Pertenecer o habiendo pertenecido a Hollywood tiene pros y contras. La ventaja es entender que uno está en una burbuja y que sabe cuándo correrse. La contra es que a veces no te das cuenta y permanecés en una mentira permanente. Hollywood está, hemos oído hablar de él, pero no existe, es ficción, como "Jauja".

© La Razon/Entorno Intelligente.

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Viggo Mortensen talks about the stories of Patricia Highsmith

Source: TV.
Found By: Chrissie
Chrissie brings us this clip from TV

Watch it HERE

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Last edited: 23 July 2014 09:50:05