Nicolas Winding Refn Names His Biggest Influences And Talks Making Films Like Pornography

Ryland Aldrich, Festivals Editor

With the release of Only God Forgives on the horizon and Twitch's 5 Days of Refn series to go along with it, the time was perfect for a little outside-of-the-box thinking. Still, I was a bit surprised when Nicolas Winding Refn agreed to my idea of the two of us kicking back and watching a film of his choosing. To go along with my chosen theme of influences, the film was to be one that Refn considered a seminal title that had shaped him as director. After seeing (and loving) Only God Forgives a few months prior, I expected something Asian; something gritty; something particularly visually stimulating. My fingers-crossed guess was a film by Suzuki Seijin. I was even more surprised when the film turned out to be Frank Perry's famously troubled 1968 production The Swimmer, starring Burt Lancaster.

Far be it from me to argue with an esteemed filmmaker, so I tracked down the out of print DVD from my local library and drove over to Refn's temporary home in Los Angeles's Laurel Canyon neighborhood. What followed was a delightful conversation with the director about his process and many of the films that have influenced him over the years. While we strayed way off topic for much of the talk, I did get a better understanding of what he brings with him into each project and how certain films have helped shape the movies he has made throughout his career. Here are some nuggets from that discussion on the influences of Nicolas Winding Refn: