With Blood on His Hands: The Films of Nicolas Winding Refn

With Blood on His Hands: The Films of Nicolas Winding Refn

With Blood on His Hands: The Films of Nicolas Winding Refn

With Blood on His Hands: The Films of Nicolas Winding Refn

With Blood on His Hands: The Films of Nicolas Winding Refn

With Blood on His Hands: The Films of Nicolas Winding Refn

Series - Twitch Film Feature Series

Skip to schedule and film credits
Twitch Film's Todd Brown takes us into the bloody, brutal and darkly fascinating world of the controversial Danish provocateur, from the trailblazing Pusher trilogy to the stylish smash Drive to this year's Cannes-scandalizing hit Only God Forgives.

Films in With Blood on His Hands: The Films of Nicolas Winding Refn

    • Fear X
    • Nicolas Winding Refn
    • Winding Refn's first English-language film is a hallucinatory, almost Lynchian thriller about a mall cop (John Turturro) who struggles to unravel his wife's murder without unraveling himself.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Pusher II: With Blood on My Hands
    • Nicolas Winding Refn
    • Mads Mikkelsen takes centre stage in the first sequel to Pusher, as an ex-con who desperately attempts to earn the approval of his crime-lord father while coming to terms with the fact that he has become a father himself.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Pusher III: I'm the Angel of Death
    • Nicolas Winding Refn
    • The concluding panel in Winding Refn's Pusher triptych focuses on an aging drug lord who is struggling to maintain his business against younger rivals while simultaneously planning his daughter's birthday party and indulging in his fondness for cookery.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Gambler
    • Phie Ambo
    • This up-close-and-personal documentary portrait follows Nicolas Winding Refn as he struggles to rebuild his critical reputation (and his personal finances) following the failure of Fear X by embarking on the back-to-back sequels to Pusher.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Bronson
    • Nicolas Winding Refn
    • Tom Hardy (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises) gives a bravura, full-tilt performance in the title role of Nicolas Winding Refn's stylized biopic of Michael Peterson, a.k.a. Charles Bronson, infamous as "The Most Violent Prisoner in Britain."

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Valhalla Rising
    • Nicolas Winding Refn
    • A mute, one-eyed warrior (Mads Mikkelsen) accompanies a group of Christian crusaders across the sea to the Promised Land — or is it Hell? — in Nicolas Winding Refn's heavy-metal Viking epic.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Drive
    • Nicolas Winding Refn
    • Nicolas Winding Refn won the Best Director prize at Cannes for this sleek, retro-fitted automotive thriller about a taciturn getaway driver (Ryan Gosling) who violates his own self-interested moral code when he falls for a pretty young single mother (Carey Mulligan).

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Only God Forgives
    • Nicolas Winding Refn
    • Danish provocateur Nicolas Winding Refn reteams with his Drive star Ryan Gosling for this hypnotic, ultra-violent revenge saga set in the seamy underworld of Bangkok.

    • No events playing at this time.

While 1996 was a major year for Danish cinema given the Cannes triumph and global success of Lars von Trier's Breaking the Waves, it was another 1996 film from another Danish enfant terrible that may prove to be the more influential and important film in the long run. Only twenty-six years old when his debut feature Pusher hit the screen, Nicolas Winding Refn was born into a well-established Danish film family — his father, Anders Refn, was a much in-demand editor for high-end Danish films, and indeed served as von Trier's editor on Breaking the Waves — but despite his insider access, in many ways he remained an outsider to his country's cinema culture. Raised in New York City until his teenage years, Winding Refn eventually returned to Denmark and was accepted at the Danish Film Institute, but dropped out before ever setting foot in its halls, as by that time he had managed to raise a budget to expand one of his short films to feature length.

Pusher would serve as the template for almost all of Winding Refn's subsequent work in its balance of rawness and technical polish, unapologetic stylization and well-grounded sense of character, cultural specificity and transnational sensibility, and — perhaps most importantly — its at times shocking violence. In the wake of the film's breakout success, Winding Refn seemed to represent a link between two film worlds that still largely preferred to keep each other at arm's length. As a Danish filmmaker, particularly one with such close familial ties to his country's film history, he became poised for success on the international film-festival and art-house circuit; and as a director who publicly scorned the French New Wave and repeatedly stated his belief that The Texas Chain Saw Massacrewas one of the greatest films ever made, he brought the brash energy of American popular film to the often staid realms of European art cinema.

Now nine films into his career, it's evident that Winding Refn was not so much a bridge as the vanguard of a new and, perhaps, inevitable breed of filmmakers: one that is not confined to its own national borders until being "discovered" by cultural gatekeepers, but one that breaks through to the world at large by speaking the shared language of pop culture and relentlessly blurring the lines between "art" and "entertainment" cinema. The decade that followed Winding Refn's groundbreaking debut saw such respected directors as Claire Denis, Bruno Dumont, Catherine Breillat and Patrice Chéreau pushing the boundaries of violent and sexual content in traditional art cinema, while new voices like Gaspar Noé, Park Chan-wook and Bong Joon-ho won accolades and awards on the festival circuit for their canny combinations of genre-film material and formalist, high-art gloss. Now endowed with his own highbrow bona fides after winning Best Director at Cannes for Drive, Winding Refn seems to be the first significant director of the post-internet age: the leader of a film generation for whom traditional artistic borders, no less than national borders, are becoming increasingly irrelevant.

— Todd Brown