The Shadow of Our Name
By Viggo Mortensen and Fabián Casas - translated by Ollie, Rio and Zoe
22 September 2014
Here I am, again looking at the St. Lawrence River and the border that separates the USA from Canada, that invisible line, another arbitrary obstacle created by men with guns and money. I've returned from Toronto, where we presented Jauja with a little crew headed by Lisandro Alonso which included some of our co-producers from Mexico, Argentina, Holland, France, Denmark and the USA. I was also at the festival to present the French film, directed by David Oelhoffen, Loin des hommes [Far from Men]. We were well received by the viewers of both films. The audience for the North American premiere of Jauja laughed, applauded and stayed a long while to chat with Lisandro and with me after the showing. Many spoke about your script, Fabián, appreciating the originality of our story. I think that Lisandro is very pleased. He deserves the positive recognition that is coming to him from everywhere. He stayed a couple of days more to do interviews and to meet with other directors. Next month we're going to New York to present Jauja at the New York Film Festival. The filmmakers of the world are increasingly learning more about the singular work of our friend Lisandro. Which is terrific!
Lisandro explains the inexplicable in Toronto
San Lorenzo is playing today against Godoy Cruz. We are champions of the Americas, but we are last in the rankings of the first division Argentinian teams. Bauza's team has to stop dragging. They must get on the horse loosen their hips and reins, now, move forward, deep into the forest and against the wind. There's still a lot of tournament left, and CASLA should wake up. I'm convinced that it will happen, and that in the national league as well as in the Copa Argentina, we'll be able to surprise everyone by arriving just fine at the Club World Cup in December. We can no longer continue living off of being the Libertadores [Cup] champions. The name of San Lorenzo de Almagro is known more than ever around the planet, but we cannot live in the past; we cannot simply live off our lovely name. As the great Mexican poet Octavio Paz said:
"To lose our name is like losing our shadow; to be only our name is to reduce ourselves to being only a shadow."
Beautiful, but already in the past
I saw the second fight between the Chino Maidana and Floyd Mayweather. For me, Maidana had won the first fight, so I wanted to see a rematch that could bring about a little justice. But it wasn't to be. To take the belt of a champion, especially when this one fights at home, holding and dodging the challenger, putting a finger in his eyes all the time - and with a referee very favorable to the local boxer, you have to win with a knock-out or else. Despite putting up a fight, Chino lacked a little aggression, more lateral movement from the waist. He couldn't take advantage of the moment that he'd created in his brilliant fourth round. Mayweather is very clever. He knows how to distract and hold, to make time. The point that the referee deducted from Maidana wasn't fair and later he should have taken one from Mayweather for a very clear intentional low blow. Mayweather is a great boxer but he's also a cheater. That's why Chino needed to leave him on the canvas, but he couldn't. The referee partiality of my gringo fellow countryman infuriated me, but boxing is like that. And Floyd knew how to defend himself. As Sun Tzu said, "Good warriors make their adversaries come to them and in no way let themselves be drawn outside their fortress." That is what happened in that Mayweather fight, but I doubt that he dares to give another opportunity to the Santa Fe bull. Chino should feel proud. He didn't cheat and attacked without stopping. Like CASLA who sometimes ties or loses in spite of playing on-the-attack soccer, Maidana should feel proud of his valiant effort. In my opinion, Mayweather's defensive resources, licit as well as illicit, wouldn´t be enough in a third fight between these two boxers, especially if it were on neutral ground. We´ll see if he stops avoiding Pacquiao now [tr. note: a Filipino champion boxer]. Probably the champion won't like risking his belts and his economic kingdom. I think the Filipino would now finish him if he had the chance to confront the North American. Professional boxing is a whorehouse. Both athletes and cheating entrepreneurs should be forced to play rugby every weekend. That really is a sport for the brave. Sissies have no place in it. In the last few years, among the players I´ve seen playing soccer on the attack, Messi, Higuaín, Pipi Romagnoli, Iniesta, Beto Acosta, Pocho Lavezzi,Gonzalo Bergessio and a few others are the ones who play soccer this way - giving their all without diving or whining. That´s also the way Chino competes. Compared to him, Mayweather is a mischievous greyhound.
Hi, Viggo! I just arrived from Santiago, Chile. I went because they were presenting a new book of mine and I had to go to do interviews. I like that city a lot, where I have close friends who've helped me in hard moments of my life. So it's always a pleasure to return there. It's great that the film continues its course, isn't it? And that you and Lisandro could get together. I had a skin allergy; I broke out in a rash, something that happened to me several years ago while I was writing the novel that ended up as Jauja. What I did at that time was give the allergy to Captain Dinesen and it left me immediately.
Captain Dinesen, going downhill
Now I'm finishing a novel that has to be delivered next year, but I want to get it done before the new baby is born in December. Anita is making things with wooden boxes, rope; she paints and pastes them and gives them to me. I think that Kevin in heaven will approve of them as new baby art! In the hotel at night, I saw on the TV that we won a match and that Cauteruccio scored a goal. I think that the latter is key; we have to get back the gladiators.
Cauteruccio celebrates the 2-1
I also saw the Maidana fight and I was bored. I had the feeling that there was never, but never, going to be an exchange of blows; it seemed like abstract combat. Anyway, now I'm going to be traveling on the weekends to present books and give talks: Rosario, Mendoza, Tandil. I haven't seen Lisandro in a long time; I think he's left human form. Are you with your parents?
Yes, Cauteruccio scored a nice goal. I hope it's the first of many in this tournament, and in the Cup matches and the Club World Cup. The other goal, the one that gave us the advantage at the end, was the result of a penalty well-called, but just barely. The referee could have ignored it; he saw a couple of holds on Mas, who let himself fall down on the second one. The Cuervo was shrewd, but the holding was real. There´s no arguing about it really. It was not like Fred´s disgusting theatrics in July during the first World Cup match between Brazil and Croatia, or like Robben´s impressive and shameful jumps from one empty space to another in that tournament. The foul happened; it was a stupid play by Zuqui. One hold, fine, OK, but the second, more explicit, was a stupid thing to do that warranted the punishment. And, of course, Ortigoza scored because he almost never misses from eleven meters. Romagnoli played very well and indirectly engineered the victory goal with his great pass to the center area, as well as creating several other opportunities for his teammates against Tomba [tr. note: nickname for Godoy Cruz team]. Pipi is in very good form. I think that San Lorenzo could string three together for a while and go back to the top of the rankings.
The eleven against Godoy Cruz, 13/9/2014
How great that you've been in Chile and that you are writing new things! Lisandro is in New York. They gave him a scholarship, a kind of artistic residency for a month or so at Lincoln Center. I don't know if he's being a teacher; I think he only has to write a new script, speak a little about film and I don't know what else. Within a week, I'll see him to present our story, yours and ours, at the Festival of San Sebastian in the Basque Country and in three weeks, I'll see him again in Manhattan to present Jauja at the New York Film Festival. When the Basque Country is mentioned, I always think of the great CASLA legend, Isidro Lángara Galarraga. He played in Boedo during the Second World War. The San Lorenzo board of directors saw Lángara play and wanted to put him under contract when he made a South American tour with the Basque team, their national team, during the Spanish Civil War. Boca Juniors and other Argentine teams wanted to put him under contract, but CASLA was lucky enough to attract him. One of the best business moves in the history of Ciclón. In his debut match in 1939, he scored four goals against River Plate in a little more than half an hour in the Old Gasómetro. He ended up scoring 110 goals in 121 matches in the azulgrana shirt. He was already a veteran when he came to Buenos Aires, of soccer and of the Civil War in which he fought as a soldier of the Republic against Franco's fascist army. He'd played 220 official matches with Oviedo in the Spanish league - scoring 281 goals! He played with several well-known Cuervo figures during his Argentine stage; perhaps the greatest was the young Rinaldo Martino who was then the tremendous scorer of our great championship team of 1946. They didn't call him "Tank" and "Blaster" for nothing. He had a brutal shot and never lowered his arms; he played like a beast the whole game. A bull. We could use a player like Lángara now, implacable, tough, clever - a little bit like Bergessio crossed with Gringo Scotta. Cauteruccio could be that player. We'll see...
Now we need to think about the match in the last sixteen for the Copa Argentina. Franco in the goal, and some other changes that make me nervous. Like when Pizzi was changing the team all the time to take care of the local tournament. I don´t like it at all. You have to go for it in every match, every moment is a challenge, every game must be taken as a final. The first team is not well-oiled yet. Since San Lorenzo won the Libertadores [Cup], it has shown flashes of quality, but in general there´s too much smoke and hardly any fire in Ciclón´s collective game. We can´t be overconfident against Defensa y Justicia [tr. note: a soccer team from the province of BA]. We should win this cup, but it has to be done on the ground, pass by pass, play by play. What was and what's ahead doesn´t matter. Now it's this match and nothing else.
Tomorrow we play for the Copa Argentina and, as you say, Franco makes his debut in the goal. It looks like Bauza is going to begin the rotation. There´s a nice game on the weekend: Independiente-River. Independiente organised themselves after the clásico they won against Racing, and with more intensity than soccer, they are one point away from the ones managed by "Hombre Araña"* (I call him Hombre Araña because, while on the ground during a super clásico, Gallardo scratched "Abandonacieri's" face (I call him "Abandonacieri" because after a slight blow, Boca´s goalie left a key match with the national team who was winning 1-0 against Germany in the World Cup in Germany - Che Guevara would have shot him.)
[*tr. note: Spider Man/Scratching Man. In Spanish "Arañar" means "scratch" ]
[**tr. note: play on words with "abandonar" (quit) and the real name: Roberto Abbondanzieri.]
I think that Gallardo´s River is playing very well. They attack and defend, pulling back with the precision that the belly of an accordion has to move on every line and produce music. The teams that played against them (like we did) had to wear themselves out completely just to be at the same level. Gallardo brought dynamics and attack to it. His vocation is offense and even without Teo Gutiérrez, he was shattering. "Cracknevitter" (not necessary to explain why I call him that) [tr. note: Matías Krannevitter, River´s midfielder] seems like Mascherano to me without the overacting, as if he were Daniel Day Lewis minus the tics that invariably win him an Oscar. I´ll write to you after the match.
Today´s coach El Muñeco, and the one from …
Brother, if you want, please give me your impression of the defeat. I almost don´t want to say anything. Much of what I saw made me sick. The rotation was not a good idea, but that´s the least of it The bad thing for me was the lack of aiming and the long shots, the absence of the characteristic good team play that was put together with so much effort and intelligence during last year or so. San Lorenzo looks very lost, and they have to get back on their feet. Often it was clear that San Lorenzo was a superior team, with the obvious potential to score against Darío Franco´s brave and well-organised Halcón, but they did nothing. Great goal by Cauteruccio, a couple of good attacking plays, and nothing more.
And the Cuervo assholes who shot the Huracán supporters in Avenida Caseros after the match must never again enter our stadium or any CASLA headquarters. Criminals, bitter people, human trash. This is not San Lorenzo. Enough. Our president will have to take the initiative to stop this, at least in respect to our club and, if possible, the neighbourhood we share with our Quemeros cousins [tr. note: Huracán supporters]. I think that Matías Lammens really wants to make a difference regarding violence.
Hello Viggo: I couldn't watch the match because I went to a karate class that I needed very much. It happens that we are moving house. We are going to rent ours and go to one we already made a downpayment on because it is close to Anita's new school, my work and the woods for Rita to run. All these damned procedures - guarantees, paperwork, alterations for the new house, etc. - are killing me and that´s why I take the opportunity of going to the Dojo to remove my rooster comb - as our Chilean brothers say [tr. note: Chilean expression for calming down] - and stop the machine of thinking about Gladys. Today I woke up very early to go and contest a traffic ticket that they wanted to pin on me, and afterwards, when I was having coffee in a bar, I read that we had lost. I thanked Sensei Funakoshi (the Japanese poet who organised and spread the karate chops) that I could not watch the match because it would have upset me a lot. The only thing I can remark on is that Caute scored the second goal. It looks like Bauza has a hard job ahead of him. I didn't know about the barras; that is a scourge that, without a strong political decision, is impossible to clean up. I think if that continues in the future, soccer won't be played any more with people in a stadium; I think in the future the only thing that's going to be played is Playstation and there, Cristiano Ronaldo will continue to reign, since he's designed for that. In the 40 minutes that I had to wait to speak with the judge about my traffic ticket, I wrote one more chapter of the short novel that I'm cooking up. Don't forget that we are champions of the Americas!!!
I'll never forget that, Cuervo! No one can take that away from me. We are the champions, my friend. Tomorrow we're going to play Defensa y Justicia again in the local tournament. Let's see if we get a little rematch after being eliminated by them in the battle for the Copa Argentina, but I hope that San Lorenzo plays calmly, without anger. A professional victory - convincing and deserved - is what Ciclón needs at this point.
I'm happy to know that you've gone back to karate. Lisandro and I were just talking about that in Toronto, wondering if you were continuing with your morning sessions in the dojo. Funakoshi is a great figure in poetry and in the martial arts. The virtuous warrior behind the unified style called Shotokan. When my son Henry was 6 or 7, he began studying the Shotokan style in California. I did it for a couple of years, too. I liked the calmness that I felt after the sessions in the dojo. Because film work took me all over, I never went as far as Henry or as you who are already approaching the top of this Japanese sport/philosophical discipline.
I just arrived in San Sebastian. Tomorrow we present Jauja at this lovely festival in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula. When I arrived at our hotel, there were a lot of people outside. I greeted them briefly and went in. I didn't know why there was so many people. In the lobby I saw several well-known faces from international cinema and then understood that it was an afternoon of many arrivals, a lot of media hubbub. After having a drink in the hotel bar with Lisandro and his parents, who are touring France and Spain and who are coming to our premiere, here I am in my room writing to you. I just saw the second part of Manchester City - Chelsea. The team of Engineer Pellegrini, champion of last season's Premier League, was losing 0-1 and Mourinho hid his evident satisfaction quite poorly. At minute 85, the eternal fighter Frank Lampard, who had just entered the stadium for City, made the tying goal. Minutes later he almost scored the 2-1. Lampard is a legendary player in England, a man who's suffered and triumphed with his national team in the Premier and Champions leagues. He is the historical top scorer and the implacable moral leader of Chelsea, who nevertheless was discarded by the Portuguese coach and the Stamford Bridge board of directors after last season. The match ended 1-1, with Lampard being the leading figure in spite of his limited playing time, and City taking the psychological victory. We'll see whether in the long run the selling of Lampard will turn out to be as worrisome for Chelsea as Di María´s for Real Madrid or that of Diego Costa for Atlético de Madrid, but this veteran soldier again wrote his name in the history of British soccer. It's a pity that Mourinho didn't take Lampard's goal like a virtuous warrior. His media comments after the match about his ex-player were not very gracious. That didn't surprise me, coming out of the mouth of a rich, successful man, but one self-condemned to the most vile and disgraceful bitterness. Mourinho almost always loses, regardless of the official result of the match.
The eternal warrior evens the score, but doesn't …
It's interesting that our story is already becoming part of the cinematic history of Denmark and that it also has an historic link with that country's literature. When I read your script three years ago and saw that my character had the provisional name "Captain Blixen," I suggested to you and Lisandro that for my fellow citizens of the land of Isak Dinesen, the pseudonym of the writer Karen Blixen (born Karen Dinesen), it would perhaps be more relevant and interesting to give the character the name of the writer's father. Captain Wilhelm Dinesen fought in the 1864 war against the Germans just like our character, Gunnar Dinesen. Wilhelm was a very cultured man, son of the bourgeoisie and a recognized writer, but at the same time, like our farmer engineer, an adventurer in the New World - Wilhelm in North America and Gunnar in South America. If you haven't read them, Wilhelm's books are very interesting. I don't know if they were translated into Spanish, but they are in English. I could loan them to you if you want to read them. They also recently published a good biography of Captain Wilhelm Dinesen, written by Tom Buk-Swienty, who has already written several books about the wars of 1848 and 1864 between Prussia and Denmark in which our character also participated. From 1877 on, the military service medal worn by Dinesen in Jauja was bestowed by King Christian IX on some 3,000 Danish soldiers who had taken part in both wars. As you know, I found it shortly before our shoot in Copenhagen, where I also got the uniform, the telescope and our Captain´s sabre - all from the same period. Who knows who the soldier was who won that medal we used in the film... As in our story, time and the historical facts of the human race get tangled, mixed-up and vanish in the infinity of the universes.
Besides being a great soccer player, Lampard is very intelligent. His IQ is over 150, which places him among the geniuses of the world. When he was a child, he always got perfect marks, for example, in Latin.
Last edited: 4 November 2014 07:27:03