The films of Danish auteur Nicolas Winding Refn are known for their extremely violent content. But it's a heavily stylized, heightened kind of violence, with Refn taking an almost whimsical and even strangely beautiful approach to death and destruction. It's not a surprising aesthetic for a filmmaker who feels violence is akin to sex ... even though he's not always completely successful in describing that particular philosophy to his cast.
The first behind-the-scenes clip from Refn's new blood-soaked opus, "Only God Forgives," features the director trying to explain this approach to his lead actor and current muse, Ryan Gosling.
Check out the clip here:
"It's, like, violence is like sex," says Refn, after which Gosling can't help but look right into the camera to make sure that we're all hearing this essential filmmaking lesson. "It's all about the build-up. You see what I'm saying ... it's like the climax itself ..."
The clip then cuts to Refn and Gosling on set, where Refn is working with his fight choreographer. "Now make it dirty, unique, interesting, never-seen-before violence," he demands, after which the choreographer shows him a series of moves that might indeed make up never-before-seen violence.
"Yes!" Refn exclaims. "And then an elbow thing."
We're not done with the violence-is-sex lesson, though, as we cut back to the conference room, where a bemused Gosling is still making sure that everyone watching is paying attention.
"The sexuality of violence is that ... the more you're engaged in the build-up compared to the actual act itself," says Refn. "So it's the breaks in-between that's the build-up to ... the slicings. And then it's back. And then it's in again. You know."
Sure, we know. We saw "Drive." And "Valhalla Rising." And "Bronson."
Add these new quotes to the ever-growing pile that reveal that Nicolas Winding Refn is, indeed, a "fetish filmmaker," as he admitted in his September 2011 interview with Yahoo! Movies in support of the theatrical release of "Drive."
"I am a fetish filmmaker," said Refn. "I just make films based on what I like to see, on what arouses me, and not try to analyze them, because if I do, then I can destroy it."
It might go beyond just fetish and arousal, though. Refn, who sees his films as almost child-like fables and fairy tales more than simple genre flicks, takes the sensuality and emotion up several notches as he considers filmmaking to be the closest thing to giving birth that men will ever be able to experience.
"Filmmaking is the only thing a man can do that could possibly be similar to a woman giving birth," said Refn in a 2011 interview with The Guardian. "It's such an emotionally complex experience, we men could never understand what a woman goes through, which is why women are so much more sophisticated and interesting, and in my opinion should rule the world."
In fact, Refn goes even further by imagining a world without men at all ... except for him, of course.
"I guess my ideal world would be one of only women," Refn said. "I'd be the only guy."
So. Did you get all that, Ryan Gosling? Let's make sure we see all that in your performance, please.
"Only God Forgives" opens July 19.