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Iolanthe's Quotable Viggo


Found By: Iolanthe

As we’ve been seeing this week with Chrissie’s ‘On This Day’ posts, this is the 5th anniversary of Jauja’s Magical Mystery Tour through Denmark. Viggo, Lisandro Alonso and Ghita Nørby went to enormous lengths to bring this film to audiences and although it never played to massive houses outside of Festivals, critics around the world who saw it were mesmerised by Alonso’s work and Viggo’s performance. So this week we have a reminder of what an truly extraordinary piece of cinema it is. Maybe, with all the weirdness of lockdown when normal life has been suspended, it’s time to watch it again?





Jauja… is a beautiful, mystical, intoxicatingly wonderful film...

Paddy Mulholland
Awards Daily
20 October 2014




Anchored by a rumpled, naturalistic performance by the great Viggo Mortensen…

Angelo Muredda
Torontoist
5 September 2014




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...

...The film is its own journey, and there's seemingly no end to how far you might travel with it.

Tomas Hachard
NPR
19 March 2015




…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. Visual leitmotifs suggest threads through the maze: pools and streams whose mirrored surfaces suggest doors into other worlds, a tin soldier that turns up in unexpected places...

...the real treasure, the mythical object for which the film sets out, is finally nothing more than the very film that it ends up being.

Jonathan Romney
Film Comment
19 March 2015
A shot of Dinesen staring at himself in mote-speckled water rhymes with a later shot of the captain stretched out on top of a mountain staring at the stars — one man contemplating both himself and his place in the cosmos...

Vadim Rizov
Filmmaker Magazine
20 March 2015





Mortensen, perhaps the only actor alive who could play Sigmund Freud, William Burroughs and a Middle-earth king, speaks both Danish and Spanish in the film, though he spends most of his time on screen in silence. One of the joys of cinema is the chance to watch great actors just stay still and think.

Uday Bhatia
Live Mint
11 September 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.

Mark Asch
Brooklyn Magazine
7 October 2014




Alonso’s previous features have been notoriously—and, for many viewers, off-puttingly—slow and cryptic. Mortensen injects the director’s esoteric, anti-psychological themes with a psychological reality that makes them all the more tantalizing.

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky
AV Club
19 March 2015




Viggo Mortensen, as mysterious here as the Sphinx.

Jauja: Viggo Mortensen Lost in Patagonia
By Eric Vernay - translated by Donna Marie
Premiere (France)
19 May 2014




Dinesen, with his European manners, books and scientific principles, is at once noble and ridiculous, a civilized man adrift in the wilderness and the embodiment of blind, imperial arrogance. A doting father and a bit of a snob, he seems to absorb the wildness of his surroundings, becoming desperate and almost feral as he wanders the wasteland howling his daughter’s name.

O. Scott
New York Times
19 March 2015




This is a powerhouse performance from Mortensen, as he infuses Dineson with complexity, personality, even a dab of mordant humor – an impressive feat given that the role is largely silent.

As he 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.

David James
wegotthiscovered.com
6 April 2015




Our attention is more deliberately focused on Mortensen's place in the landscape, and in the way his soul inhabits his body, clad in a stiff soldier's uniform. Now and again, we do get to look squarely at his face — Alonso wouldn't be so cruel as to deprive us of that entirely. But by holding the camera back, he intensifies both Mortensen's performance and the visual potency of the movie around him. There's so much to take in here that at times I almost felt as if I were absorbing it through my skin.

Stephanie Zacharek
Village Voice
17 March 2015




This lack of solicitude for the audience—the real time, the featureless stretches of land and sky, the incomplete knowledge of events—is a perfect storm of cinematic minimalism. Rather than consume the movie as if it’s served to us pre-chewed, we lean in, hold our breath, suspend judgment. 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.

Michael Atkinson
In These Times
18 March 2015




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. For all its seeming austerity, the film pulls you along with incredible force — not unlike the way it pulls its lonely protagonist, played by Viggo Mortensen, along on his quixotic, dreamlike journey....

Jauja is a rapturously bizarre movie that resists knowledge. That’s its secret, intoxicating power; the less you understand, the more mesmerized you are.

Bilge Ebiri
Vulture
21 March 2015



You will find all previous Quotables here.

© Viggo-Works/Iolanthe. Images © 4L Productions/Soda Pictures.

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Iolanthe's Quotable Viggo


Found By: Iolanthe

This week I thought we’d take a retrospective look at Jauja – a film that for ages and ages had no name, just the tantalising promise of something new and strange. Viggo relished working with Lisandro Alonso on this low budget adventure in the Patagonian Desert and the end result was so mesmerising it took Cannes by storm. And Viggo gave an outstanding performance as Dineson, melting, as one critic described it, ‘into the environment, the boundaries of Dineson’s self slowly eroding into the Patagonian dirt’.





Few stars of his stature would consider such a low-budget arthouse film in a foreign language - let alone co-produce it, be able to act in both Spanish and Danish, and be prepared to sport such spectacularly awful whiskers.

Viggo Mortensen shows his independent side
by Demetrios Matheou
Herald Scotland
4 March 2015




‘Jauja is not a place, it’s more than that, it’s an idea. It’s an impossible idea or feeling of contentment, satisfaction, tranquillity. It could be anything...’

Viggo Mortensen
Jauja: Interview with Viggo Mortensen
by Pamela Jahn
Electric Sheep
16 October 2014




“My character is in the same position of the audience -- trying to figure out what is happening."

Viggo Mortensen
A Conversation with Viggo Mortensen at Cannes
Karin Luisa
Huffington Post
21 May 2014




What past did you invent for this Captain Dinesen?

I took things from another Dinesen. A writer and adventurer who also went to the New World at the end of the 19th century. A hunter, he was the father of Isak Dinesen whose real name was Karen Blixen. I took things from my grandfather, my father's accent and since I know something about the history of Denmark and Argentina, I could link them.

Viggo Mortensen: Film and Soccer Activist
By Horacio Bilbao - translated by Ollie and Zoe
Clarín.com
27 November 2014




‘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’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
Tobias Grey
The Financial Times
27 March 2015




‘He’s a great actor and I’m a new guy, in terms of actor’s stuff, so I think I had to sit down and learn from him. I didn’t speak that much, and I think Viggo knows 100 percent how to interpret this guy.’

Lisandro Alonso
Lisandro Alonso On “Jauja,” Viggo Mortensen, and Narrative Mysteries
By Luke Goodsell
Movie Mezzanine
17 March 2015




‘We didn't have much film. We were shooting it on real film and we had a limited amount, so in the latter stages of the shoot we were down to short ends and that was clear. I'd ask, "Well, how much [film] do you have left?" And [Alonso] would say, "Well I have a piece about a minute or less, and one that's about 39 seconds." And I'd tell him, "Well, at a quick trot to cross that piece of ground, 39 seconds would be cutting it a little close so save that longer bit for the next scene."’

Viggo Mortensen Tells Us Why He Hasn't Done Blockbusters Since 'Lord Of The Rings'
LAist.com
By Carman Tse
19 March 2015




The actor acknowledges that working with a director known for his off-the-grid methods – such as using primarily with non-professional actors – was a bit of an adjustment. “It took a little getting used to,” he says. “For one scene I asked Lisandro who was doing the continuity on the set, and he asked me, ‘What’s that?’ The way he works, he’s never had to worry about things like that before.”

Adam Nayman
Globe and Mail
9 September 2014




[Viggo’s] a worker, you know, a machine, all the time thinking good things for the project. Sometimes he was too much for me, because I was not used to that. I was used to working with people who don’t know how to read or write, you just organized a little bit of the frame, and that was it. But with Viggo, you have to talk about why you wanna do that, in terms of where to put the camera and the lights, you know.’

Lisandro Alonso
Lisandro Alonso On “Jauja,” Viggo Mortensen, and Narrative Mysteries
By Luke Goodsell
Movie Mezzanine
17 March 2015




We didn't have any money in the budget to buy music, but I told him, "I know a brilliant guitar player and we've recorded together." I sent him 10 tracks to see what he's interested in, and he picked "Moonset". He was right—it was perfect.’

Viggo Mortensen Tells Us Why He Hasn't Done Blockbusters Since 'Lord Of The Rings'
LAist.com
By Carman Tse
19 March 2015




[Lisandro] had intended to have a more panoramic look, and when he got the first footage back from the lab and wanted to start editing, he was just like ‘send it to me raw, I just wanna look at the whole thing so I can decide where to start and end this sequence.’ And then they sent that back and when he saw that format he said, that’s the movie. He was smart enough and open-minded enough to realise that even though that wasn’t his idea originally, that was perfect, that’s the way that the movie should look.

Interview: Viggo Mortensen
Charlotte Pick
The National Student
6 April 2015




“What I think is special about Lisandro is that he’s able to make a truly original movie, remarkably original, without referencing other filmmakers or other movies, without drawing attention to what he’s doing, without showing off. My feeling is that the film is not in any way pretentious, and yet it stands out from all other movies. That’s a hard thing to do.”

Viggo Mortensen talks Jauja
By Philip Bagnal
Scannia
11 March 2015




...finding myself with a small team in the middle of nowhere, in the superb landscape I knew because I spent my childhood there, it made me happy. And it was liberating.

Viggo Mortensen: "If The Lord of the Rings can win 12 Oscars, I don't see why Avatar wouldn't win the Oscar for best film."
By Eric Vernay - translated by Donna Marie
Premiere (France
21 May 2014




"It was a crew of about ten people walking over the rocks. We were all tired but we had a lot of fun. By nightfall, since we were 150 km from the internet and telephones, we made a little fire, an asado [grilled meat], we talked... It was a family experience."

Viggo Mortensen
The Lord of the Roles
By Pamela Biénzobas - translated by Ollie and Zoe
In-LAN
August 2014



You will find all previous Quotables here.

© Viggo-Works/Iolanthe. Images © 4L Productions.

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Iolanthe's Quotable Viggo


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.

Bilge Ebiri
Vulture
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...

CineScope Blog
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
Le Monde
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...

Matt Prigge
Metro (US)
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.'

Viggo Mortensen
Jauja: Interview with Viggo Mortensen
by Pamela Jahn
Electric Sheep
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
Tobias Grey
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.

David James
wegotthiscovered.com
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...

Tomas Hachard
NPR
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.

Jonathan Romney
Film Comment
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.

Mark Asch
Brooklyn Magazine
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'

Viggo Mortensen
An Anarchist in the Closet
By Viggo Mortensen - translated by Chrissie and Ollie
Pagina 12
27 October 201
3



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.

Michael Atkinson
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
Nick Chen
London Calling
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
Kyle Lee
Box Office Prophets
31 May 2018



You will find all previous Quotables
here.


© Viggo-Works/Iolanthe. Images © 4L Productions.


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Last edited: 24 May 2020 18:25:30