JAUJA *) takes us on a trip through cinema history (it adopts the classical format 4:3 with as much as rounded corners), through brutal colonialism (it places Patagonian indigens against European conquerors) and through mythology. It does pay off to bear with the films slow pace and the uncomfortable feeling that something is amiss – director Lisandro Alonso does not do “easy”.
The character Viggo Mortensen plays, Danish Captain and engineer Gunnar Dinesen, to me is a reminder of “Den standhaftige tinsoldat” in his quest for a seemingly fragile lady (his daughter), who’ll turn out to be an archetype (played by Ghita Nørby), comparable to powerful female characters in the lays of the Edda … Hyndla (the little dog), or Groa … or even Urd (she owns a spring, after all, and her well might transcend centuries and continents). I asked Viggo Mortensen in my interview with him whether this had been his doing: “It was not my idea, but Ghita and I were aware of the resonance Nordic mythology and literature have in her character and the cave she inhabits and offers her wisdom in. It is amazing how well the fusion of Argentine and Scandinavian folklore worked in our story. I’m very happy with that aspect of the movie.” I asked him as well whether the omnipresent toy soldier figure alludes to H.C.Andersen‘s famous fairy tale. Viggo Mortensen confirmed my suspicion: “Yes, you are right, that is part of the resonance the toy soldier has. While this is not necessarily obvious to people outside of Scandinavia, I did think about that while we shot the movie, and tried to sneak the little soldier into as many parts of the story as possible, to give it a continuous presence throughout the movie.” Mortensen’s own Perceval Pictures features foremost in the credits as producer, so he obviously had a say.
*) quote from press booklet: “the Ancient Ones said that Jauja was a mythological land of abundance and happiness … the only thing that is known for certain is that all who tried to find this earthly paradise got lost on the way”