Viggo Mortensen: “We live in a black spring of politicians who play at being both arsonists and firemen”

The actor receives the Donostia Award, inviting to reflect on the pandemic and convinced that his directorial debut, 'Falling', is also a reflection of the world we live in

Viggo Mortensen (New York, 1958) compensates for his facility for languages with a “stubborn” determination (the adjective is his) to speak slowly. A lot. It would seem that this multiplies by two each of the seven languages that he dominates. For him this year is the Donostia Prize, which, in its own way, is also worth two. The anomaly of the pandemic situation left him as the only candidate and, moreover, the most anticipated of all. All the circumstances pointed and even forced it. He lives in Spain, which makes travel easy, and makes his directorial debut at almost 62 years of age. But there is more. As long as you look at yourself as slowly as the rhythm set by your calm diction, ' Falling ', that's the name of your film, deals with precisely what happens to us with unusual precision. In fact, if the pandemic has shown one thing, it is that all the movies, all the books and all the songs talk about it. They have always done it even though we didn't know it. But in this case, more. The double.

“My movie,” says the actor who is also a poet, photographer, editor, painter, musician, fan of San Lorenzo de Almagro and even an anthropologist, and now he is also a director, screenwriter and producer, “speaks of the fear of growing old, which is also the fear of being left alone and the fear of getting sick. If the pandemic has done something, it is to make us more aware of the vulnerable situation in which the elderly find themselves. Of that and that life is a gift . We must accept others and learn to forgive others and oneself “. Amen.

Indeed, ' Falling ' is about that. The story of a family presided over by a violent, macho, misogynistic and voracious father (a huge Lance Henriksen) guides a reflection on issues ranging from the sense of fatherhood to the weight of inheritance through forgiveness, acceptance or simply the love. “I want to believe”, continues the director who in the film reserves the role of son for him, “that what you see in my film is also a microcosm of today's society. As in ' Falling ', in today's world the tension and polarization rule everything. And I'm not just talking about Spain. It's a world situation. ” Dramatic pause. And he continues: “We are living a black spring in which all kinds of politicians have flourished who play at being arsonists and firefighters at the same time. First they create problems with their simple and crazy proposals, and then they offer to solve what they have. created with absurd formulas. It is time to decide if we want to have political leaders who are carried away by the temptation of simplicity and offensive language, or leaders who want to do collective work. ” And there, for the moment, he leaves it.

Before reaching the address, Viggo Mortensen can boast of having been through it all. Through all forms of cinema and even through all the countries from Denmark to the United States through Argentina, Spain and Canada (where he has shot ' Falling '). In Mortensen they converge from the evidence of one of the greatest 'blockbusters' that cinema has given ( 'The Lord of the Rings' ) to its most combative refutation. It was to become world famous in his role as Aragorn and, immediately afterwards, he turned his career and filmography into one of the most peculiar, as well as brilliant, artistic and personal investigations of the new screen. “From Peter Jackson [the director of the Middle Earth saga] I learned to solve problems. He only created an industry in New Zealand and I never saw him give up any of the infinite difficulties that he ran into,” he says and hence the thanks at the end of ' Falling '.

He says that despite the fact that ' Sole witness' always appears first in his biofilmography (Peter Weir, 1985), it actually started earlier. “I used to tell my mother that I was in 'The Purple Rose of Cairo' by Woody Allen and 'Girls on the Warpath' by Jonathan Demme, but she was convinced that I was in New York doing nothing. I used to go to the cinema to see the films and there it was nowhere to appear. But I worked on them even though it doesn't appear in the credits, “he says slowly. Extremely leisurely.

Be that as it may and despite the success and Tolkien, far from bowing to the whim of a Hollywood that ran to elevate him as one of their own, Mortensen has turned his career since 2003, the year of the ' last ring' , into his own investigation. Very own. With David Cronenberg , whom you became a prtctologist in his film, he shot the trilogy 'A History of Violence', 'Eastern Promises' and ' A Dangerous Method' , three films built from the most confusing, hurtful and brutal subconscious. In fact, in the last of them it was his turn to give life to Freud. 'The Highway ', directed by John Hillcoat , made him the bleak image of the immediate future just as bleak envisioned by Cormac McCarthy. In ' Jauja ', by the Argentine Lisandro Alonso, he lent himself to portraying the limits of everything civilized from the borders of cinema itself. And, again, it is there, at the exact limit of himself and of everything limited where he is best. His return to prestigious cinema, the one that is awarded at festivals, is full of sweet finds such as 'Captain Fantastic' or 'Green Book', his last two Oscar nominations. The first was for Aragorn. And all this without forgetting his whispering ' Alatriste ', by Agustín Díaz Yanes, from which, by the way, he will receive the Donostia Award.

He tells of his adventure as a director that he comes from afar. ' Falling ' was shot on the second try and after so many different projects they fell by the wayside. ” It is always rare for the intern to jump into the ring, ” he comments in a rare and slow mix of sayings from here and there. “But I do not regret anything. I am stubborn and do not deviate from my path . In addition, debuting so late has allowed me to avoid many mistakes that I would surely have made if I had started earlier,” he says in a clear example that his is the art of slowness.

He refuses to acknowledge that the story of his film is his own. But right after the denial, the closest thing to recognition appears. “It is the portrait of a generation. Although there was love, there was a way of understanding masculinity that had to do with something inflexible, which was also bitterness and resentment. But the latter is nothing more than a consequence of insecurity in the face of new times that are experienced as a threat “, he affirms in the closest thing to a definition of heteropatriarchy perhaps. “The mother is the moral axis of ' Falling ',” he concludes as a ' spoiler ' that is also a moral both inside and outside the cinema.

Viggo says he will continue directing. He says it slowly. 62 years has been taken for his first film. All praise for the slowness. “I think there is hope. We are not going to give up. We have to be optimistic,” he says emphatically at the end and it is not clear what he means. But welcome is the message, the Donostia Award and 'Fallíng', an unbeatable, brilliant and tumultuous debut. And slow.

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