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Triage (2009) – Seville Film Festival Exclusive

December 9, 2009

Exclusive by Periodista Digital’s Gloria Scola
Original text in Spanish, translated here into English
Periodista Digital

There are hundreds of movies on the aftermath of the Vietnam War. On the psychological consequences of other conflicts, however, the number is greatly reduced. In Triage, which means classification and is a term used in emergency medicine to quickly identify patients who require immediate resuscitation, Bosnian Danis Tanovic focuses the germ of the drama in Kurdistan in 1988.

There, an ambush on the part of the Kurd guerrillas peshmergas to an Iraqian convoy will send war photographer Colin Farrell to a field hospital. And there, on the spot, horrified, he will discover what a “triage” is.

Red label for the wounded and the highest priority (extreme urgency), yellow for priority two (urgent), green for priority three (non-urgent), and black for zero priority cases (dead and not likely to survive). In the film, seemingly unscrupulous doctor (Branko Djuric, who has worked with the director in No Man’s Land and learned English to play this character) places the black labels and kills the dying unceremoniously. Meanwhile, Farrell’s friend and fellow war photographer (David, played by Jamie Sives), is missing.

At the Seville European Film Festival (November 6-14), where the film opened the official section (but it was finally Lourdes, by Austrian Jessica Hausner, which won the Golden Giraldillo), “a lovable Colin Farrell” recounted Periodista Digital journalist:

“I saw No Man’s Land and loved it. Danis Tanovic is an incredible director, and has also lived a very personal experience with war and understands very well what conflict can do to the psyche and the human body. He was an amazing guide, very generous with his experiences in Sarajevo and that he was there, covering a war as part of a video documentary.”

Based on the book by former war correspondent Scott Anderson and Tanovic’s own screenplay, this co-Irish-Spanish-French (Castafiore Films, Litmus Films, Film Group Freeform Spain) shows the traumatic return of the photographer to his home in Dublin, while his girlfriend (Paz Vega — Sex and Lucia, Spanglish) and the wife of his friend (Kelly Reilly — Pride and Prejudice, The Libertine) are wondering what happened to David.

Colin Farrell added, smiling:

“The book makes many references to the internal battle of my character, both the emotional and psychological, which also manifests itself physically. There are paragraphs that, walking down the street, talks about his prominent cheekbones, and then looking in the mirror and seeing the ribs, so even if the script had not included it, I thought it worthwhile to lose 20 kilos [40 pounds] for the role, and I did. Fortunately and happily, I have recovered.”

As the story progresses, a new character will be essential. It is the grandfather of the girlfriend of the photographer, an experienced psychiatrist (Christopher Lee — Dracula) who will treat the protagonist. For his part in the “psychological cleansing” of fascist criminals during the Spanish Civil War, his granddaughter has denied him. But reconciliations for a good cause are always possible.

Triage contains a scene very similar to Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, in which the psychiatrist asked his patient for explanations about what he sees in different drawings, answering: “In this test no hits no errors.” It also includes a justificatory speech that for some strange reason, is slightly reminiscent of the masterful Schindler’s List, though on this occasion, not quite sure whether that of Oskar Schindler, the Nazi [Amon Goeth] played by Ralph Fiennes or Itzhak Stern, the Jewish accountant (Ben Kingsley). At one point, the psychiatrist [Christopher Lee] says in Triage: “The greatest power is to kill. Once done, it’s easy. I purified them [fascist criminals] so that they did not continue killing. I saved many.”

Mixed speeches aside, the film marks a new participation of Paz Vega, gorgeous on screen, in an international production.

Paz Vega unveils to Periodista Digital journalist:

“I cut my hair without telling the director! And it’s been a fantastic experience. With English I already see myself doing well, and as far as Danis Tanovic, he came to visit to me in Los Angeles and he said to me: ‘If you want, I have come here to hear your voice because I want you in my movie.’ Well then, no more to say. Then he told me it was going to be with Colin Farrell, a fabulous actor, and Christopher Lee. And I thought, Christopher Lee my grandfather? Who will believe that? But I think it is well settled. It was a real pleasure and I love coming to the Festival of Seville with this film.”

The soundtrack of Triage is by composer Lucio Godoy and the shooting took place in Ciudad de la Luz studios in Alicante in Jijona, Elche, Sabinar Valley (San Vicent del Raspeig) and Dublin during the spring and summer 2008.

Colin Farrell confesses:

“It was very hard, 14 hours a day, six days a week … I’m exhausted, but it was worth it. I think if you are not in it, you cannot know this profession, but, besides Danis, a Reuters photographer friend of his, Damir, was there for the filming in Alicante during the first three weeks, so adding my imagination to their experiences, what I’ve read and seen in documentaries, I could build the character. That was it. ”

by Gloria Scola

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Beth permalink
    December 9, 2009 11:55 pm

    Fantastic article! It will be interesting to see those parallels to the scene in A Clockwork Orange first hand.

  2. Rick permalink
    December 10, 2009 2:09 pm

    Thanks for the translation on this one, it’s a good interview. I’ve seen some pix of Farrell at the height of all that weight loss. That’s some amazing will power.

  3. brj permalink
    December 10, 2009 8:02 pm

    No Man’s Land was great. I think this will be too. Danis Tanovic, he understands how to make a film about war.

  4. January 24, 2012 2:28 pm

    Great Movie, Great Actors would be good if there would be mentioned about Armenia too, but anyway,, i would like to know whats the name of that sweet song from the begining and the end .. please ive been looking for that for months

    Thank You

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