Today, Nicolas Winding Refn is a name in the cinematic landscape. It is a no-brainer. Like many, he started with a first long feature film made with very little means : PUSHER. First of all, PUSHER of the first name is a movie that can be considered basic, both in its form and in substance. A scene fully to the shoulder for a thriller in which a man spends his time running after money to cover its debts. We have known of the plot more original, no ? However, when you add the way of filming, and the challenge story, one realizes that the film takes on a whole different order of magnitude.
The story ? As we have just mentioned a few lines earlier and it will be complicated to say tons above as it fits on nothing. Frank is a drug dealer and he owes money to another dealer. To pay off his debts, he offers him a big blow that, unfortunately, goes wrong because of the font. Franck will end up running after money to get out of the galley in which it is pressed.
Running after money will be the engine of narrative. And it is here that one can establish a striking parallel between the character of Franck, and Nicolas Winding Refn. When one stops to really look at the details of the scenario, we realize as the film goes on often scenes that are identical, in which Frank will see a variety of people to get the money, but never happens to its purposes. Exactly like Nicolas Winding Refn , who struggles to find the money in order to become a director. Moreover, the film is far too long for what he wants to tell but it is made with a mad energy, a desire to film, which animates the camera, as if this film had absolutely exist, that it was vital for the Danish director. This last does not happen with a proposal for a cinema, but with a desire to make films. We know that eventually it will shape a style noticed and remarkable, but at the time of the first film this is not it. It is only and simply to make the film. No matter the form.
Because you can’t help but compare the three components, the first will remain the least successful, the least interesting if one takes it as such. Except that it is still essential vis-à-vis the other two because it is he who installs the “mythology Pusher”. He laid the foundation of the universe, a visual treat and characters. To do this, Refn calls the collective unconscious convening of figures inherent in the films of mafia (the small hits, the “godfather”, the minion…). The consequence of which was to make the film immediately accessible, to talk to us with the archetypes that we know without having to propose a writing that is more advanced in term of characterization of the characters. And where the trilogy PUSHER grows, it is thanks to the other two components, which will be a continuation of the universe. In either the 2 or the 3, Refn takes over a character of 1 and promote it to the primary role. He goes even further at times, showing a character already known in the time of a scene or only via a dialogue. Links are formed between all the films and create a real “mythology ” Pusher”.
“The style of Refn as we know it now is only an exacerbation of what we glimpsed in PUSHER.”
What is clever this is under what axis Refn develops his characters. Tonny, the main hero of the second component, is first introduced into the first PUSHER as the funny guy, the friend who accompanies us everywhere, who cares about everything, who takes few things seriously. There, it takes on a whole different scale, becoming the protagonist of a number. Has his release from prison, he finds his father “The Duke”, in order to try to work with him and winning his esteem. Things, that he never had. We find a character that worked within by a wrong-to be persistent and when the viewer look at it differently because it is no longer the clown of service, but a man with injuries. His character evokes that of Ryan Gosling in Only God Forgives who wants to try to meet her mother for having the recognition that he never had. In addition to having to manage the relationship with his father, it is also the time for Tonny to perform this role since he discovers that he has a child, born during his stay in prison. The procedure is the same in PUSHER 3 , where it is Milo, seen in the 1, which becomes a central character of the plot. One saw him only as the villain in the past, as the smuggler a bit nice but that does not forget its own interests and can become bad when we try to deceive. PUSHER 3 comes completely reverse our judgment by showing as a father overwhelmed, wanting to meet the needs of his family while assuming the role of trafficker.
It is by the theme of fatherhood, PUSHER 2 and 3 emancipate themselves of their single status for polar to become movies sensitive, thick, emotionally and more exciting. What is to be a father ? How to find his place in his family ? How to assume its responsibilities of parents ? Here’s a sample of the issues raised in these films. Refn speaks to us of things in common, we are all the son of somebody, the parent of the current/future of a child. If the scene remains nervous, the violence occasionally leaves the place to introspection. As evidenced by the magnificent plan of the 3rd installment, from concluded the trilogy brilliantly. Milo is located in front of an empty swimming pool and he stays there, motionless, gazing at the dried out basin. Nice metaphor to illustrate the life of a man who wants to give the appearance of manage, but who knows that there is more to the height. Milo in front of this basin, it is especially Milo in the face of Milo. This sense of the symbolic, little present throughout the trilogy but this, it begins the style adopted by Refn during the rest of his career. Movies like Only God Forgives or Valhalla Rising abuse of visual symbols to reveal the feelings of the characters and help us in the overall understanding. Other formal proposals to appear in small touches in this trilogy : attraction to neon lights, music, synth, slowed down, to capture the wave to the soul… The style of Refn as we know it now is only an exacerbation of what we glimpsed in PUSHER, be it in the form that in the thematic. Everything was already there in part. And it was already brilliant.
Nicolas Winding Refn is a filmmaker exciting. To try to capture the essence of his cinema, we are set to 4 (Maxime, Vivien, Georgeslechameau and Paul) to try to break down his filmography. Each writer to be watched all the films, in the order of the output, which allowed the suite to be able to work together to collect the most items. It is then with its own sensibility and its culture, as each one is launched in the drafting of critical, while being able to re-contextualize the films compared to the rest of the filmography, to the whole work.
Results in a folder full, trying to capture the essence of the work of the Danish director and allowing you, hopefully, to better understand the beauty of his cinema.
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BONUS : also Check out Our top 10 movies of NWR or our different opinions on the work of the filmmaker.
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