Iolanthe's Quotable Viggo
3 June 2018 13:37:36
Found By: Iolanthe
When Kyle Lee of Box Office Prophets called Juaja 'one of the great westerns ever made, and possibly the most unusual' I realised I'd never thought of the film as a western, but all the elements of some of cinema's most iconic westerns are there – the wide open spaces in which people are almost lost, the taking of land from native peoples, the lurking threat of hidden violence, the search for someone missing in a hostile environment, the trying to hold on to the familiar when transplanted into another world. But Jauja is also so much more – a Quixotic journey through an environment where dreams and reality flow into each other and become something strange and wonderful. I think it's time to put the Bluray back in the player and see this magical and mysterious film again...
I've now seen Lisandro Alonso's captivating, unearthly Jauja four times, and I don't think I'm any closer to telling you what it's all about; the more I see it, the more puzzled I am. Alonso likes to traffic in the oblique — in the blank, mysterious spaces between the ostensible realities onscreen. That sounds like a lot of hooey, but watching Jauja, which is certainly one of the best films of the year, I never once doubted that I was in the hands of a master filmmaker.
21 March 2015
The faint echo of The Searchers' plot should already make it clear that this is a deconstructed western (the relationship between man and his surroundings is where Alonso and Ford's westerns overlap). But it's one that, slightly reminiscent of Miguel Gomes' Tabu a couple of years before it, seems in dialogue with silent cinema, with its Academy (4:3 aspect ratio) format and rounded corners, as well as Viggo Mortensen's brilliant but largely wordless performance...
21 December 2014
Mustachioed, astride his horse in a cavalry uniform, sword in sheath and a splendid hat on his head, he is reminiscent of John Wayne in the early John Ford films.
Franck Nouchi - translated by Ollie and Zoe
19 May 2014
[Dinesen's] off the map even before he's robbed of his horse and most of his possessions; from the start he's destined to be lost in and swallowed up by nature, red in tooth and claw and utterly disinterested in the plight of insignificant humans... Like all of us, he's a rationalist who expects the world to work a certain way, and is helpless when it does not...
20 March 2015
'Sometimes it was quite awkward and tiring to tramp around in that heavy greatcoat, wearing those slippery-soled riding boots, tripping over that saber. But I found that all of that helped me construct a sort of Danish Don Quixote, a man who has no idea how clumsy he seems in those landscapes, once he is off his horse.'
Mortensen plays a Danish engineer in Patagonia
by Pam Grady
San Francisco Chronicle
14 May 2015
'Dinesen is a surveyor and scientist, very northern European, very rational, everything has to have a logical explanation… And in that way my character is very determined – like if you are going to do a job, you might as well do it correctly, and in a timely fashion. And if someone says, 'Well, we're having tea at 4.30pm on Tuesday', you say, 'Well, I'll be there'. But it's Argentina, so whoever you were going to meet might turn up on Wednesday, or maybe he doesn't.'
Jauja: Interview with Viggo Mortensen
by Pamela Jahn
16 October 2014
"I find him an admirable character in a way," says the 56-year-old actor. "He's so obtuse, even when he doesn't know where he's going or why he's going or who he is, he still keeps moving forward. It's his stubbornness which I find both pathetic and endearing and, as I say, admirable."
Interview: Viggo Mortensen
The Financial Times
27 March 2015
As [Dinesen] progresses through this limbo-like landscape we watch him gradually transforming, Mortenson's weathered features becoming akin to the rocks surrounding him. As he emerges from within dark cracks, kneels to sip dripping streams or dozes underneath the stars, he melts into the environment, the boundaries of Dineson's self slowly eroding into the Patagonian dirt.
6 April 2015
The film is framed in a 4:3 aspect ratio and, most strikingly, sports rounded corners on its images. That relatively constricted vision (somehow the rounded corners highlight how quickly the world slips out of view as the camera pans) is offset by the incredible depth that Alonso and masterful cinematographer Timo Salminen produce in their shots. In the open desert, fading gradually from sharp clarity in the foreground to the soft blur of the horizon, the images seem to connote infinity...
19 March 2015
...the landscapes remind us that 'Scope is not indispensable for evoking vastness: the tight parameters of these frames encourage us to imagine an infinity outside their edges. Rich colors suggest both dream and the artifice of Hollywood Westerns: deep blue clouds on a sky fading to yellow at its base resemble a painted backdrop; pools of golden firelight in a night shot are manifestly lit, as if on a studio set.
19 March 2015
Sweating in layers of bulky long johns, and sporting a droopy, weeping mustache, Mortensen carries the film, his human grumbling and surprised, rageful violence conveying the sense of a nervous, basically average man caught on a journey into his own heart of darkness. Increasingly, as the other characters drop away, Mortensen has nothing to play against but nature and himself.
7 October 2014
'Dinesen is a man who seems to cope well with loneliness, but finally he becomes lost in it. He goes out in the desert trying to find his daughter, but in the end we realize that he is also tracking down his wife, his mother, all women and men in the world, his own childhood, his country and his death'
An Anarchist in the Closet
By Viggo Mortensen - translated by Chrissie and Ollie
27 October 2013
We're as lost as Mortensen's protagonist, and we feel the weight of it acutely. The semi-flat steppes all look the same in every direction, and the minutes tick by, until eventually night falls and we lose our bearings completely.
In These Times
18 March 2015
"There's a lot of entering and coming out of dreams, a lot of transitions in the movie… By the end of the story, you don't know if we're being dreamed, or if the characters are all dreamed, or if it's a dog's dream or the girl's dream. In a way, it doesn't matter. It's what it stimulates."
Interview with Actor Viggo Mortensen
7 April 2015
What kind of western ever gets us to ask these kinds of questions? One of the greatest, that's what kind. A true Hidden Gem.
Hidden Gems: Jauja
Box Office Prophets
31 May 2018
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© Viggo-Works/Iolanthe. Images © 4L Productions.