The Valhalla Rising Interview with Nicolas Winding Refn at 42 Sitges Film Festival


“That’s what we do, we make movies, we don’t wait.”
~ Nicolas Winding Refn

Interview Table of Contents:

  • Valhalla Rising
  • Mads Mikkelsen as One-Eye
  • Samurai & Spaghetti Western Influences
  • What’s Next?
    NOTE: Higher res version of this interview can be downloaded/viewed here in Quicktime format

    The Valhalla Rising Interview with Nicolas Winding Refn at 42 Sitges Film Festival

    With Valhalla Rising which marks the first film of what he calls his second filmmaking phase, Nicolas Winding Refn is making cinema at the edge of the world. Taking us where people dare to travel to and that have never been shown on the silver screen. Who today are our non-conformist visionary true auteurs making cinema that will hold up for the next hundred years? Who are our Antonioni’s or our Kenneth Anger’s? Who wants to tell a story and make a great damn film first and not worry about contemporary conventions and mechanisms? With both Valhalla Rising and Bronson I feel that Refn has emerged as that type of voice in cinema in joining the ranks of similar filmmakers of our day like Paul Thomas Anderson and few select others. I can easily see both Valhalla Rising and Bronson being the types of films that are studied, analyzed and rewatched again and again for years and years, much the same way people now look back at a film like L’Eclisse, Ikiru, Once Upon a Time in America or The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
    Valhalla Rising will be released in 2010 from IFC Films (press release) and I highly recommend putting it on your must see list. This isn’t a film to walk into expecting a giant Conan inspired Viking tale or one that feels like it’s in a hurry. This is a film to unwind and immerse yourself with as each frame unspools. It’s the film equivalent of an aged rich bottle of wine that is best enjoyed in doses where you breath it in as you drink it without trying to down it all at once. This is cinema at its height to get drunk with, bathe in and rejoice that we have new filmmaking masters in our day willing to take us to new places and paving new roads for cinema to follow. And more than anything this is a film best experienced on a big giant movie screen, so be sure to get out to a movie theater to support it!
    Mads Mikkelsen as One-Eye doesn’t have a single line of dialogue and turns in one of his best and most challenging performances I’ve seen from him yet. You know there just isn’t very many actors at all that could put in a performance like this which relies on pure physicality, heart and soul and void of having lines to pull the audience in with. Mikkelsen has no crutches to fall back on here, he simply is the mythic man with no name hero and never misses a beat. As big of a movie star and always playing such great memorable characters from the preacher in Adam’s Apples to James Bond villains he manages to completely make you forget who he has been before or that he is Mads Mikkelsen, the only thing you experience is One-Eye throughout the entire run time of Valhalla Rising. Reinventing yourself is never easy and here both Mads Mikkelsen and Nicolas Winding Refn prove that for them nothing is impossible… so onward and upward they go, kicking down walls and we are just lucky enough to see both of them grow as the continue to climb and take us to new heights.
    I say this as a cinephile and I can only take so much of contemporary filmmaking having all the same framing, cutting, visual and sound designs, cookie cutter performances and a seeming aim to entertain in a popcorn film type of way that lasts for a year or two and then feels incredibly flat or dated. While its great at times to be able to get lost in a mindless film, it for me personally is far more rewarding in getting lost in a film that feels immortal. So this is why my praise for Nicolas Winding Refn is so high and in carrying this torch. While we need these mindless GI Joe movies for pure fun, we equally need our Valhalla Rising and without either on both spectrum’s, cinema becomes nothing more than half baked product pushed by accountants. The at times over superficial commercial side of Hollywood should never trump the entire landscape of cinema as within what is being made we need the films that make magic, tell great stories and push it to new places and heights and at the end of the day regardless of time or place give us precious hours to be completely lost in them that moves us, makes us better and forever changes our path in life.
    I can’t wait to see Nicolas Winding Refn’s next projects as he embarks on his second filmmaking phase which are shaping up as: a Paul Schrader script he wants to do, a western in Bangkok, a heist film in LA with Mads Mikkelsen or Jekyll & Hyde at Universal. I also can’t wait to check out Refn’s favorite Spaghetti Western which proved to be a selection that most would have never guessed.
    Cinema is Dope Coverage of Sitges Film Festival 2009:
    ::: The Valhalla Rising Interview with Nicolas Winding Refn at 42 Sitges Film Festival
    ::: The SPLICE Interview with Vincenzo Natali at 42 Sitges Film Festival
    ::: Is Independent Cinema Dead? – Vincenzo Natali, Director of Splice
    ::: Viggo Mortensen @ 42 Sitges Film Festival
    ::: CLIVE BARKER: Exclusive Interview Part Two at 42 Sitges Film Festival
    ::: CLIVE BARKER: Exclusive Interview Part One at 42 Sitges Film Festival
    ::: ENTER THE VOID: Exclusive Interview with Gaspar Noe at 42 Sitges Film Festival
    ::: Orphan at 42 Sitges Film Festival: Isabelle Fuhrman & Jaume Collet-Serra
    ::: Previewing Sitges Film Festival 2009 – Part Six
    ::: Previewing Sitges Film Festival 2009 – Part Five
    ::: Previewing Sitges Film Festival 2009 – Official Fantastic In Competition Selection
    ::: Previewing Sitges Film Festival 2009 – Noves Visions Lineup
    ::: Previewing Sitges Film Festival 2009 – Part Four
    ::: Previewing Sitges Film Festival 2009 – Part Three
    ::: Previewing Sitges Film Festival 2009 – Part Two
    ::: Previewing Sitges Film Festival 2009 – Part One

    Sitges Film Festival 2009:
    ::: Official Site
    ::: Sitges Official Facebook Fan Page
    ::: Variety on Sitges ‘09
    ::: ‘Visage’, by Tsai Ming-liang, opens the Noves Visions category
    ::: Malcolm McDowell to receive the Grand Honorary Award at the opening, which will moved up to October 1st
    ::: [REC]2 to open Sitges 09
    ::: Alien is the inspiration for Sitges 09
    ::: The latest and most eagerly awaited genre films at Official Fantàstic Section
    ::: Animation, international variants of horror and 3D film
    ::: Sitges 09 will be recalling certain flashes from the 80’s

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