Monday, October 17, 2011

THE CINEMA OF NICOLAS WINDING REFN TOLD THROUGH IMAGES & STILLS


Now That 'Drive' is out and Nicolas Winding Refn has blown up, lets take a look at the rest of his filmography and explore the common themes, shots and inspirations that link all his work together just like we did with Michael Haneke, Claire Denis, Lars Von Trier and many more. I must admit that I've been sitting on this one for a little while. I wasn't sure if i was ever gonna post this. Refn is the youngest director out of the list of people I've done so far. And not only that, his career as a director hasn't reached the status of Haneke, Von Trier (whom he currently has "beef with), Tarkovsky, etc. But there's something so great about his film making style. His work has grown on me over the years. I was never a huge fan of the first half of his career, but since 2004 I've been hooked.

VIOLENCE:
Nicolas Winding Refn's (recent) films may be very atmospheric, trippy and (sometimes) slow, but there's plenty of blood and violence to counter all of that. Naturally his earlier work that dealt with drug dealing and gangsters (Bleeder and The Pusher Trilogy) had plenty of bloodshed, murder and shoot outs (which should be expected in movies like that), but his more recent work like 'Valhalla Rising' and 'Drive' feature some of the most extreme scenes of violence in recent years like disembowelment & scalping (valhalla) or face smashing & neck stabbing (drive). 
Bleeder
Pusher 3
Bronson
Valhalla Rising
Drive
Only God Forgives
Only God Forgives




HALLWAY SHOTS, THE "GLARE" & STANLEY KUBRICK'S INFLUENCE:
Somewhere between 'Fear X' (2004) & 'Bronson' (2008), Refn started to draw inspiration form Stanley Kubrick's work. Most people compared Bronson to Clockwork because they felt the lead characters were very similar in that they were charismatic & funny yet unstable & violent. But the comparison to Kubrick goes way beyond 'Bronson'/'Clockwork'. In all of Refn's latest films he often incorporates a "glare" shot (where the character stares off intensely, almost zoning out for a moment) similar to the ones in Kubrick's films. Additionally, Nicolas Refn seems to have a fetish with filming long corridors and hallways just like Kubrick did in his films...

The "Glare" Bronson

Nicholson's "Glare" in The Shining



Drive



2001





Fear X



The Shining





Fear X



2001


Pusher 2



The Shining



Bronson



The Shining





ADDITIONAL INFLUENCES


'Thief' (1981) 





1. Ad for 'Drive'





'To Live & Die In LA' (1985)





2. Ad for 'Drive'




the calm before the storm - 'Sonatine'





the calm before the storm - 'Drive'





violence erupts in elevator










steve mcqueen in 'Bullit'





Gosling in 'Drive'





Willis w/ hammer in 'Pulp Fiction'





Gosling w/ hammer in 'Drive'





Scorpion Jacket from Kenneth
Anger's 'Scorpio Rising'



The Dirver's scorpion jacket that he
wears all through out 'Drive'


ATMOSPHERE & THE COLOR RED:
Some of Refn's films have an indescribable mood or feel to them. A lot of this has to do with choice of lighting and his emphasis on the color red. As we all know, if used in certain way, red can convey an unsettling feeling. Sometimes he does it in a super obvious way like in 'Bronson' & 'Fear X' or a more subtle way like in 'Drive' & 'Valhalla Rising'. Refn's dark lighting mixed with that specific color has become his trademark in the last 5 years...
Fear X
Fear X
Fear X
Bronson
Bronson
Valhalla Rising
Valhalla Rising
Valhalla Rising
Drive
Only God Forgives
The Neon Demon



SYNTHESIZED SOUNDTRACKS:
'The Social Network' ain't the only film score to feature dirty sounding synths and atmospheric tones. In recent years, Refn has obviously drawn inspiration from stuff like 'Thief' and 'To Live & Die In LA', right down to the synthesized soundtracks. 'Bronson' & 'Drive' feature some very retro sounding music reminiscent of Tangerine Dream, Nine Inch Nails and Vangelis. And whats also interesting is that the music featured in his films all seem to come from the same record label ("Italians do it better").

used during the closing credits of 'Bronson'


used in 'Drive'

used in 'Drive'






SELF-REFLECTION:
Another common shot found in Refn's films (and other filmmakers') is a shot of self reflection. This is a pretty typical shot just like kissing in the rain or someone falling to their death in slow motion, but for some reason I don't seem to mind when Refn does it.
Pusher 2
Drive
Bleeder
Only God Forgives
The Neon Demon