Presentation of 'Jauja' at the Filmoteca de …
Image Jose Cuellar.
© El Mundo.
He arrived in Valencia from Madrid via New York to present his last movie, Jauja, at the Filmoteca. It was blink-and-you-miss-it. A lightning trip that was confirmed at the last minute. Even so, Viggo Mortensen had time to briefly introduce the film by Lisandro Alonso and inform his audience, "I will answer your questions later or comfort you if I don't have answers." And the fact is that Jauja, an award-winner at the Cannes Film Festival, is a film that requires being watched attentively and inquisitively by the audience. A perplexed audience that watches the journey of Captain Gunnar Dinesen in search of his daughter through the wild territories of the Argentine Pampa.
Viggo Mortensen said he didn´t think "in terms of stardom." Hence his accepting to take part in a low budget project whose watching requires, precisely, skipping the complacent viewing that more commercial films offer. "99% of the scripts that I get are of little interest," he remarked. That has nothing to do with Lisandro Alonso's, a director who "thinks and directs like a genius."
That genius manifest in Jauja, in which Viggo Mortensen portrays Captain Dinesen commanding a group of soldiers confronting an indigenous tribe, the Coconut Heads. All this in the context of the Conquest of the Desert, the period of colonization of the Pampa at the end of the 19th Century. In fact, nature is a protagonist of a story told in the slide format of old Westerns. "The format is coincidental, but Lisandro knew how to be open to luck and use it in a brilliant manner."
Jauja, which alludes to that mythic and imaginary country of abundance and happiness, opens with a still shot of the immense landscape inhabited by a father and his daughter, Inge (Viilbjork Malling Agger). A landscape that will end up being a nightmare for the character Mortensen plays, as opposed to his daughter, who goes so far as to say, "I feel the desert inside me, growing inside." One more allusion: "When I fall and say 'Shit of a country,' it was real and Lisandro kept it, because he thought it fit."
As the Argentine accent with a Danish lilt that he uses in the film fit: "I don't exaggerate at all, because my father speaks like that." His Danish origins and his stay in Argentina where he learned Spanish, allow Mortensen to identify himself fully with his character. So much so that, in order to reduce costs, he even suggested to Lisandro using some musical themes composed by the multi-faceted actor. "I told him that I had some songs, he listened to them and finally incorporated two - the one that plays when I'm beneath the stars and the one at the end." It's the first time that Lisandro Alonso has used a sound track in his films, just like it's the first time he's worked with professional actors.
Viggo Mortensen acknowledged that he's been lucky when choosing the films that, like it or not, have granted him the aura of stardom. In fact, there was an extremely long line at the Filmoteca to see the film and the actor up close. The Sala Berlanga was packed. "The trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, helped me a lot, because I have been able to choose the scripts and directors that I like the most." And he mentioned David Cronenberg, with whom he worked in A History of Violence and Eastern Promises, for which he was nominated for an Oscar, and Lisandro Alonso himself.
Visibly tired after the long and hurried trip to Valencia, Viggo Mortensen grew more expansive as the questions kept coming. Stripped of his brown jacket, sporting a blue t-shirt with a Peru logo, the actor was surprised by an unexpected gift - a woman in the audience gave him two t-shirts designed by her as an emotional tribute. He also marked his visit to Valencia by signing the guest book in the Filmoteca in Valencian. One thing´s for sure, he left insisting on his commitment to a film he feels proud of: "In 10 or 20 years time, I will watch Jauja and will still like it." Mortensen´s word, a down-to earth star.