Im­agery ap­peals

WILLEM DAFOE MOVES MOUN­TAINS WITH WORDS TO IM­PRESS DI­REC­TOR

Shepparton News - - NATIONALNEWS -

Willem Dafoe has never been a thrillseeker, by his own ad­mis­sion, yet an Aus­tralian di­rec­tor con­vinced him he was the per­fect man for her movie about moun­tains.

Jennifer Pee­dom, the di­rec­tor be­hind the award­win­ning doc­u­men­tary Sherpa, had al­ready teamed up with the Aus­tralian Cham­ber Orches­tra for the film Moun­tain.

Pee­dom had in­cred­i­ble footage ac­com­pa­nied by orig­i­nal and ex­ist­ing mu­sic by the ACO, but the film was miss­ing the right voice, un­til Dafoe came along.

‘‘I’m not a moun­tain guy. But the text was beau­ti­ful and the im­ages were beau­ti­ful and I liked how Jen ap­proached me and I thought ‘yes, I could do this’,’’ Dafoe said.

Dafoe, an ac­tor known for be­ing equally at home in a David Lynch movie or a su­per­hero epic, ini­tially didn’t share Pee­dom’s in­ter­est in the world’s most beau­ti­ful and treach­er­ous peaks.

‘‘I didn’t grow up around moun­tains, I never climbed them. I’ve been high up in Mex­ico and Colorado and places like that but I’ve never re­ally been a moun­tain guy and I’m not an ex­treme sports guy. But moun­tains, par­tic­u­larly as seen through this text — yes, I am a moun­tain guy. I’ll con­tra­dict my­self,’’ he said.

With the movie, Pee­dom wanted to cap­ture that feel­ing she’d of­ten had while mak­ing doc­u­men­taries such as Sherpa and Mir­a­cle On Ever­est.

‘‘Another col­lab­o­ra­tor on this project was the won­der­ful writer Robert Macfar­lane, and I had read his book Moun­tains of the Mind many years ear­lier when I was climb­ing, be­cause I was grap­pling with these ideas of ‘why, why am I drawn to these risky en­vi­ron­ments?’, and his book just ex­presses it so beau­ti­fully. So I sought him out and luck­ily he said yes so we brought the words in,’’ Pee­dom said.

The di­rec­tor was then left to find some­one who could give the Bri­tish writer’s words the weight they de­served.

When her agent sug­gested Willem Dafoe, who was on the Gold Coast film­ing Aqua­man, Pee­dom was quick to say yes.

While orig­i­nally he may not have been a ‘‘moun­tain guy’’, Dafoe felt moved by Macfar­lane’s words and the im­ages Pee­dom had gath­ered de­pict­ing skiers, clim­bers and ex­treme sports peo­ple atop the world’s high­est peaks.

‘‘I re­ally re­sponded to the im­ages, spec­tac­u­lar, beau­ti­ful. The text was very evoca­tive for me and some­thing I could get be­hind, and chal­leng­ing be­cause you’re speak­ing from a place where you’re speak­ing for the peo­ple you’re watch­ing do­ing these ex­traor­di­nary things, but you’re in a lit­tle stu­dio,’’ Dafoe said. ● Moun­tain is in cin­e­mas from Septem­ber 21

Pic­ture: Andy Kropa/In­vi­sion/AP

Right voice: Amer­i­can ac­tor Willem Dafoe was moved by the beau­ti­ful moun­tain im­agery and evoca­tive and chal­leng­ing text of Aus­tralian di­rec­tor Jennifer Pee­dom’s doc­u­men­tary Moun­tain, which is in cin­e­mas from Septem­ber 21.

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