The Mountains of the Fat Gut
By Viggo Mortensen and Fabián Casas - translated by Ollie and Zoe
30 April 2013
I was out because I had a gastroenteritis that knocked me flat. Yesterday I watched the match and was impressed at the way those kids, Correa, Navarro and Tito Villalba, play. The ease with which they played in a very difficult field and with one of those rivals that kill you when you make a mistake was very thrilling to me. CASLA went out to play in the away ground, it was one of the few times when Piatti was sharp and again Mercier and Kalinski were great putting pressure in the midfield like when we played against River.
You can imagine me getting sick when Furch tied us momentarily, a guy who when he played for us while we were gambling with our place in the rankings couldn't make a goal even by accident and here he put in a header Cristiano Ronaldo style. Luckily San Lorenzo didn't lose their focus and, it has to be said, luck helped us this time when Campestrini - who's a good goalkeeper - gave us half a goal. I put on the enormous Cuervo t-shirt that you gave me to watch the match and Anita and Rita were at my side. I yelled out the goals, running around the whole house like an idiot to the astonishment of Guadalupe!
Hi, brother! I hope that you feel better soon. Lovely image of you celebrating the goals, running through the hallways. I spent a week without telephone or internet. Although I missed you and others, the truth is that I didn't miss any of those devices. The worst thing of the week that we spent in the Pampa desert was that for the first time in many years, I completely missed a San Lorenzo match. There was a TV in the service station where all of us from Lisandro's cast and crew ate dinner, but we were filming in the desert at the time of the match against Arsenal. We had to work Saturday and Sunday because there's still a lot to film. A very nice Cuervo who lives there saw the match and told me everything that happened. He is a very interesting, extremely bright gentleman of Vasco-Navarro origins. [tr. note: area in the north of Spain] His name is Crisanto Arreses and he is almost the only CASLA supporter in the area. After dinner, I could watch the goal played on the sports summaries and I spoke a while with this Cuervo of La Pampa (some of the team began to call him "Pampi" for his great personality). He grew up with the great feats of San Lorenzo, champions of 1946, like the new Pope and, also like Bergoglio, his favourite player was and still is René Pontoni. It had been really hot that day, and since I was shooting in that old Danish uniform made of thick wool, I was completely dehydrated and mentally fried when I came back from working in the mountains. But I felt like new when I found out about our victory, and very happy when Pampi told me, like you, that the team had played the way they did against Ramón Díaz´s team.
With Pampi in the "Parador de la Sierra".
© Viggo Mortensen.
Speaking of Pontoni, I´ve got his picture card. Well, actually, I´ve got two. One is framed with two other little pictures (when I go back home I´ll take a picture and send it to you), a present from a Cuervo about ten years ago. I lost his name and address, but I hope to run into him some day to thank him. I think he was a person who worked in movies, maybe a script writer, and I think the picture cards belonged to his old man. By the way, we included those framed picture cards in the study of the character "Agustín" in the flick Todos tenemos un plan. It´s hardly visible, but it´s there. The other picture card with Pontoni is this one, one of the few remaining ones that are left from my childhood collection.
There was another Cuervo surprise in the desert. The trainer who came to work with the female dog in the film is called Fabián Gabelli and is a crazy supporter of Ciclón. He had very little time to know "Jábu" - he arrived that same day and that night had to go the 800 km back to Buenos Aires to lecture/teach next day in the college of psychology at UBA, - but he got her to perform well with me. I found out that Fabián was a San Lorenzo supporter after a complicated take we filmed, when the dog comes to look at me and then turns around and starts taking me up the mountain. "That was good
" I said to him "just what we needed." "Of course it came out well - I´m a Cuervo,"
he answered. Just like that, and he continued working as if nothing had happened. That day (Wednesday I think it was,) when we finished, I gave him the t-shirt from our club´s Centennial. We shared some beers and a boar asado
that they had prepared in the [gas] station (well, he ate other things since he doesn´t eat meat) and then the guy got on the 22:10 ]bus bound for the capital. He is an interesting man. I found this about his work - it´s an old article, but it describes him well:
With Fabián Gabelli in Lihué Calel.
© Viggo Mortensen.
We've been filming near the beautiful Lihué Calel National Park. It's not known for certain if the name means "Mountains of Life, " as they put at the entrance to the park, or "Mountains of Living Bodies" or "living flesh" as others say. They told me that in Mapundungun [tr. note: language of the Mapuche indians in Argentina], the world "lihué" means "life" and calel" mountains, so I suppose that what the National Park says would be the most likely meaning of the name. But the well known paleontologist and anthropologist Rodolfo Casamiquela, who specialized in Tehuelche studies of the ethnic Tehuelche who lived in that area before the Mapuches arrived, said that Lihué Calel meant "Mountains of the Fat Gut" (of the anus).
What do I know?... Maybe it's true, as Lieutenant Pittaluga said in our cinematic tale, that "Names don't matter." For me, they do matter, but maybe for many, they are nothing more than limited sounds, crude representations of the complicated essences of the things and creatures of this world. The scientist, Casamiquela, died in 2008, so I can't ask him about the link between the ass and that place. Perhaps it has to do with the oasis that's there and the moisture in the little mountain valleys - something difficult to find in the pampas desert. Because of the presence of water in some of the little streams and in the holes in the large rocks, there's a lot of fauna in the park - tarantulas, black widows, boars, pumas, jaguarundis, gray foxes, guanacos [tr. note: animal related to the camel] , snakes, deer and many, many birds. There's also green grass and quite large trees. The cadén [tr. note: a massive evergreen also known as an "ombú"] dominates, the emblematic tree of La Pampa, but there are lots of varieties of bushes, cacti and flowers. When you arrive at the park for the first time, everything seems very dry; maybe you're unable to see or feel much life. But after a while - and with the freedom of contemplation that the lack of internet, telephones and the noises of "civilization" provides - you begin to see more colors, to listen to the music of the place. The area reminds me of certain corners of the Mojave desert in North America. Look at these guanacos that approached us yesterday:
© Viggo Mortensen.
Martín Palermo is visiting us now with his Godoy Cruz. Let's see if our team repeats the good example of last week. How do you see this match?
Hi, Cuervo. Beautiful photos you sent of the filming area. We are here under an unexpected heat wave for two weeks, although the flowers are drying up and falling from the trees as they're supposed to. What made me very glad about the Arsenal visit was that CASLA played with authority, with the same pressure [they had] against River but to that was added - with the presence of the kids - audacity and speed. I love that.
I can't wait to sit down tomorrow to watch the match against Godoy Cruz because I think that they are going to try to play the same way. And I hope Piatti has come out of the round of instability in which he was playing and returns to acting like [he did] with Arsenal, diabolical, dribbling forward, causing the opposing team to make mistakes. The second goal comes from a cross shot that he makes, that hits the goalkeeper very quickly and goes in, helped by Tito Villaba's head - who had already made that devastating goal against Racing. Navarro's free kick goal was very good too (he'd made one already to Vélez). The idea of having some new Carasucias on the horizon makes me sleep happy and get up in a good mood.
Did you notice that Villalba comes from the area of Pedro Bidegain [tr. note: SL´s current stadium], that he grew up in the borough 1.11.14 in Bajo Flores? He played in all of CASLA´s youth teams and it seems to me that for him and our club, it´s like a dream come true to have him reach the team in the First [division] and play so well. I hope that you´re right, that these new players, along with the veterans like Pipi Romagnoli providing the best example, become the core of a great azulgrana lineup. As you say, it was about time that Piatti played an entire match, without the frequent mistakes he keeps making in this tournament. It was known he had the ability and experience to help set up the attacking play for the team. Let´s hope his winning streak continues. He said himself after the victory against Arsenal that "it was the best match I had, but I don´t always perform as I would like. I have to continue improving and not remain as I am now."
Incredible what happened to Real Madrid and Barcelona in the Champions semi-finals. I was quite certain that these two teams would be playing this year´s final (but I also thought that last year.) Now it seems very difficult for the two teams to accomplish a comeback in the second leg, (especially since Barça didn´t score in the away game in Munich.) Last year Chelsea won the Champions with a lot of luck and rather ugly soccer. To me, it wasn't the best team (and it didn't surprise me that Atlético de Madrid later trounced them in the European SuperCup). Italy wasn't the best national team in the World Cup in 2006 either, but that's how soccer is, like they say all the time. At the moment, I do believe that Bayern is the best European team. If the Spanish league wants to continue aspiring to be considered the best on the continent, the Mourinho and Tito Villanova teams will have to act like real champions and at least win the second leg, even if they don't make a complete comeback. For starters, I would like Real Madrid to make a comeback in Bernabeu against Dortmund next Tuesday. They will have to invoke the warrior spirit of Juanito Gómez, defend like beasts, without conceding a single goal, and score three themselves at home. It's possible. The way I see it, the Madrid players don't have all of the blame for the poor result against Dortmund. The German team is very good and Mourinho has also been sowing confusion and insecurity in his team for a while with his bad temper. I would like to see Captain Casillas play, since he is usually at his best at the most important events. I suppose that he will play in the league match this weekend and then his coach will put him on the bench again for the second leg of the Champions semi-final.
I would also love to see the Culés [tr. note: a nickname for Barça] come back, like they did against Milan in the previous round. Villanova will have to have a perfect approach and every one of their players will have to play the best game of their lives. I would love to see Messi do one of his brilliant games, score 3 or 4 goals himself. That's not impossible either. He just made a gorgeous goal in the league game, zigzagging alone through five Athletic defenders and finishing off with great precision. I think he's recovered quite well from his injury and could play the whole game on Wednesday.
Well, we finished the longest and most complicated stage of the filming with good results. Lisandro has managed to film very original images and scenes. He's also been accompanied by luck and an ideal atmosphere. The team worked well, bearing up under the heat and the journeys, and everyone had a little fun. Your idea of mixing Danish with Spanish in this story was a good idea, seeing the Scandinavian father and his daughter in the middle of the huge Argentine plain. There are important things left to be done, but it´s already clear that we have quite special dramatic material. We have a little more left to shoot there in Río Gallegos. After the unexpected heat this autumn in the Pampa and in Río Negro, I´m sure we are going to experience very different days and nights in the distant south of the country. The cold and the wind will also provide interesting elements to the story. It´s going to be a complete contrast to what we´ve lived through in the last few weeks.
© Viggo Mortensen.
P.S. I´m already back in Spain from Buenos Aires. San Lorenzo tied against Godoy Cruz. As we hoped, Villalba, Correa, Buffarini, Piatti, Mercier and the rest of the team, played well. The team didn´t let up as happened against Tigre after having beaten River with conviction. Without any doubt, Trucco´s refereeing was really bad. I´m not only speaking about the absurd red [card] to Stracqualursi who ended up helping Tomba strike his goal, but the nervousness of the referee during the entire match. It´s been ages since I have seen a guy directing a first division match with so much insecurity - in spite of the fact that Trucco and his family have a lot of experience in the job. The red [card] to Godoy Cruz. the penalties not signaled and a bunch of other refereeing errors spoiled a match that aspired to being a decent one. The players gave their all, in spite of the referee´s uselessness and the rain that was starting to fall harder, and you could say the tie was fair. I would have liked to see Pipi getting into it, but Jara played well and almost scored the winning goal. Villalba is growing in his command of the ball and his prominence in the attack. This kid really is a true wonder.
Casillas was not in Real Madrid´s goal in the league match. In spite of being a clasico against Atlético de Madrid, Mourinho put a "B" team on the pitch, without Cristiano Ronaldo. Nonetheless, the captain remained sitting on the reserve bench. One more insult to the great goalkeeper of [Real] Madrid and Spain´s national team.
On Saturday morning, when we got together with Lisandro, we talked a bit about the period of the film and Roca´s military campaign. That same day, Osvaldo Bayer published the following about it on the back page of the Página 12 newspaper. (I´m posting the whole thing because I think it´s well-written and because, although our film has to do with other times and other ideas, we strike some of the same chords):
© Página 12.
Last edited: 18 April 2014 15:58:10