Nicholas Winding Refn is back with a new TV series called Copenhagen Cowboy. The series is a noir-thriller and the first Danish-language project Refn has created since Pusher 3 which was released in 2005. The series follows Miu, played by Angela Bundalovic, who is on a quest for vengeance and must navigate her way through Copenhagen’s criminal underworld. Refn’s last project was Too Old to Die Young an Amazon series that was released in 2019.
Copenhagen Cowboy was commissioned by Netflix on 22 July 2022, as a part of their Danish original series. Refn will direct and serve as executive producer on the series through his own production label, NWR.
After devoting her life to an unknown organization for years, enigmatic heroine Miu searches for her nemesis, Rakel, seeking vengeance and justice whilst navigating the ominous criminal netherworld of Copenhagen through a natural and "supernatural" odyssey. She also revisits her past and its ties to aspects of her and her nemesis' relationship.
Refn has a unique style when it comes to directing and uses bright neon colours to illuminate his scenes. This is due to Refn being partially colour-blind, which he has overcome by using it as an advantage and by using bright colours to enhance the mood of different scenes. Refn has even stated that his colour blindness has influenced his style, "I can't see mid-colors. That's why all my films are very contrasted, if it were anything else I couldn't see it."
In addition, Refn makes use of slow pacing and very little dialogue to make the areas of action stand out with their loudness and violence in what can only be described as a moment of chaos. This use of pacing is due to Refn’s love of horror films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) which inspired him to become a filmmaker. You can see its influence with his film’s slow pace which inevitably leads to an action-packed climax.
Refn has talked about Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s influence on him saying, “When I saw Texas Chain Saw Massacre, I realized: I don't want to be a director, I don't want to be a writer, I don't want to be a producer, I don't want to be a photographer, I don't want to be an editor, I don't want to be a sound man. I want to be all of them at once. And that film proved that you can do it because that movie is not a normal movie.”
This inspiration continues to show in the way he writes his characters, Refn adds, "I've always liked characters that because of the circumstances, have to transform themselves, and in the end, it's inevitable that what they end up becoming is what they were meant to be."
Moreover, unlike most directors who film their movies out of order, Refn prefers to shoot his films in chronological order and cites John Cassavetes as his inspiration for doing so saying, "I read that [John Cassavetes] had done it on some of his films, so I thought, 'That's a pretty cool approach.' And after I did it on my first movie, I felt, 'How can you do a movie any other way?”
Refn continues, “All my films previous to Drive had been shot in what I call 100-percent almost-chronological order. Where Drive is like 80 percent. The reason why it didn't go 100 was that I just simply couldn't afford the last remaining pieces. I could afford what I call "the emotional chronological order.”
If you’re curious to see this director’s unique take for yourself, Refn’s directing style will be on full display when all Six episodes of Copenhagen Cowboy are released on Netflix early next year on 5 January. If that is too long a wait and you would like to dive into the world of Nicolas Winding Refn sooner than Drive, Only God Forgives, Neon Demon, and The Pusher Trilogy would be a good introduction into what to expect from Refn’s Copenhagen Cowboy which is sure to be a thrill ride.
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