November 30, 2020

"Amundsen": frozen ambition

Roald Amundsen, the first man to reach the South Pole and cross the impossible Northwest Passage, was one of the great heroes of Arctic exploration. But he was also an ambitious and extremely selfish man, willing to do everything in order to satisfy his obsession with being the first. The Norwegian also Espen Sandberg draws in his most recent film an intimate portrait of the adventurer without neglecting his incredible feats on the ice.

– In addition to the latest installment of "Pirates of the Caribbean", he has also directed "Kon-Tiki" and some episodes of "Marco Polo". Do you feel a special predilection for adventure stories?

– People fascinate me with determination. And I think our society is also fascinated by these kinds of personalities. It arouses my curiosity to know what drives them and the sacrifices they must make to achieve their goals. As well as what that implies for the people closest to them. The price of success is often paid by others.

– In this type of stories, what directs the story, the man or his adventures?

-It's hard. But I am interested in both the physical and the mental part. The internal journey, both in the intellectual aspect and, especially, in the emotional one is what connects us with the person we see on the screen, what holds us back and makes us care. I wanted to do Amundsen justice and show as many of his expeditions as possible, but always having emotional conductive threads that would encompass everything. It was a challenge.

– He does not present Amundsen as a hero, but as a man whose ambition confronted him with many people, including his brother. Does it take something selfish to carry out feats of this magnitude?

-I think so. But that manifests itself in different ways in each person. Amundsen's personality was in the style of: "If you're not with me, you're against me." That is difficult, but his companions loved him. Some of them basically gave their lives. He was the sun. For others, on the other hand, it was unbearable; Many people laughed at him. In the film, I wanted to give many people close to Amundsen the opportunity to say what they thought of him, the good and the bad, and he wanted everyone to be right.

– The stories about polar adventures abound with tragedies, lies, even cannibalism, as a consequence of the extreme conditions faced by explorers …

–On the ice you are alone. You face yourself and you get to know each other in a fairly honest and brutal way. For some it may not be a pleasant experience. Ice brings out the most extreme version of any of your facets. That is why discipline, routines and daily work were vital in Amundsen's expeditions. I knew that when you spend years in isolation you have to keep yourself busy so you don't go crazy.

– Why did you decide to tell Amundsen's story from your brother's perspective?

– Because it allowed me to make the encounter between him and Amundsen's fiancee, in which these two people with opposite visions of him could meet and talk about who he was. It also served as a tool to navigate the various expeditions and tie them in emotional terms. The story of Roald's brother is interesting because it shows us the price his family had to pay. In addition, it is an unknown story for many, and through new letters and conversations with his family we have discovered unknown aspects about Amundsen himself.

– How was the documentation process for the film?

–We study more than 35 books, hundreds of letters and work closely with two museums in Oslo dedicated to Amundsen's work. The film includes a lot of new information based on the recent research done by those museums. I live near the Fram Museum (the ship in which Amundsen sailed to the South Pole) in Oslo and after visiting it I was fascinated with this man and with the little I knew about him as a person. The story became more and more interesting the more I read about it. I wanted to understand how such a successful man could end up alone and almost bitter, in conflict with so many people. I think there is a lesson in all of us.

. (tagsToTranslate) d. Mendoza

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