Viggo Mortensen: the five still too little known works of Aragorn

At 62, Viggo Mortensen is and will remain in the eyes of all Aragorn, a member of the Fellowship of the Ring in the trilogy The Lord of the Rings, by Peter Jackson. Too late to escape the weight of this heroic role, which in the space of three years (2001, 2002, 2003) opened the doors to notoriety. Fortunately, the filmography of this New York-born fellow cannot and should not be reduced to Tolkien’s warrior with long hair and rough skin. Anarchist patriarch in Captain Fantastic (Matt Ross, 2016), he crossed paths with the Oscars (for best picture, in this case) with the pretty Green Book: on the roads of the South (Peter Farrelly, 2019), in gruff Italian-American, on the move in racist America in the sixties. In real life, Viggo writes poetry, paints and speaks seven languages. A complex personality that has haunted our screens for thirty rich years. To occupy your evenings while waiting to discover Falling, his first achievement in the official Cannes selection this year and pushed back by confinement, Le invites you to (re) discover five of his best performances.

he Indian Runner , Sean Penn (1991) – The Forgotten Revelation

In 1991, Sean Penn is a promise of international cinema at Louis Malle (Crackers) or John Schlesinger (The Falcon Game). When he goes to directing, he falls for Viggo Mortensen, spotted on the film Like a mad horse (1988). He gives her the role of Frankie, a rebel returning from Vietnam in a small town in Nebraska. The young actor shines against David Morse and Patricia Arquette, basically lost and unable to face adult life. Mortensen cultivated the ambiguity of the figure of bad boy over the performances, and here recalls the energy of the late River Phoenix in At the end of the line (1988), opposed to the American ideals of the 1980s.

USS Alabama , by Toni Scott (1995) – The second knife

Pure craft product of the great Toni Scott, USS Alabama is a nervous thriller, imagining a nuclear crisis in the Indian Ocean: Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman quibble, all muscles out, on the possible launch of missiles capable of razing Moscow. Viggo Mortensen finds his best supporting role, in a period when he multiplies the appearances in big productions (from 1993 in Dead end by Brian de Palma). He is a placid lieutenant, a drop of sweat beading on his forehead, and a peaceful counterpoint to the two protagonists. The film will give Antonin Baudry very specific ideas for his Wolf song, released in 2019.

Psycho , by Gus Van Sant (1998) – The experimental temptation

Perhaps the strangest project of Mortensen’s career, alongside ambivalent American director Gus Van Sant. The latter succeeds here in a form of synthesis between his academic vein (Will hunting) and its experimental fiber (Elephant, Gerry), with a shot-by-shot remake of the Hitchcock classic. The whole cast (Vince Vaughn, Julianne Moore in particular) do too much and seem to be having a lot of fun. Mortensen, a naïve, naïve young twink, contributes to the film’s false, enjoyable rhythm. Deliberately kitsch and out of time, Psycho fascinates by questioning our relationship to the mythical images of the first Psychosis, at the time of technical reproducibility.

With Viggo Mortensen, David Cronenberg finds his perfect gun holder. Copyright Metropolitan FilmExport

Shadow promises , by David Cronenberg (2009) – The Cronenberg Meeting

The other important trilogy of Viggo Mortensen’s career: alongside David Cronenberg, he enjoys esteem success, with A History of Violence (selected in Cannes in 2005) and A Dangerous Method (2011). In the meantime the two men sign their most extreme collaboration, in a dark and lapidary thriller, far from the usually tortuous tone of Cronenberg. Mortensen, tattooed from head to toe in these magnificent Shadow Promises, plays a gun holder with a Russian accent, responsible for protecting a midwife (Naomi Watts). The long five minutes of knife fighting in the Turkish baths alone is worth a look.

Far from men , David Oelhoffen (2014) – The polyglot

Danish, born in the United States, then left with his parents to learn Spanish in Venezuela, Viggo Mortensen therefore has three mother tongues. But did not stop there. In this film by David Oelhoffen, inspired by a short story by Albert Camus – Exile and the kingdom, he speaks in French and Arabic. He gives life to a professor from the Algerian Atlas, escort of a prisoner awaiting trial (Reda Kateb), while the revolt against the French occupation is brewing. The naturalistic photography sublimates the Berber landscapes, and the two actors realize, in a precious economy of words, one of their most touching performances.

Trailer of Falling , the first film by Viggo Mortensen whose release has been delayed by confinement.

Cinema, theater, music … The student journalists ofIPJ, the Practical Institute of Journalism of the University of Paris Dauphine , offer their perspective on cultural news.

An article published in collaboration with the IPJ IPJ


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