June 11, 2015

This is the Reason Nicolas Winding Refn Makes Films with Such High Contrast

How does one's inability to see certain colors affect the way they make films? Just ask Nicolas Winding Refn.

Yes, the director of Only God Forgives, Drive, and Bronson is unable to see midtones, and this video essay shows how his color blindness shows up in not only the look of his movies, but their content as well. 

For Refn, it's all about contrast. His quote at the beginning of the video states that because of his color blindness, his images have to have a lot of contrast, otherwise he wouldn't be able to see them. This is absolutely true for his overall body of work.

But it's not just the colors and tones of his films that are high in contrast. Their subject matter and themes are, too. That's the other point the video essay was trying to explain, that Refn's films express the polarity of life. Where there is love, there is hate. Where there is aggression, there is passiveness. Where there is growth, there is decay. Perhaps Refn's unique experience as a color blind director makes him all the more aware of the dichotomy between not only colors, but between elements of the human experience.      

Your Comment

9 Comments

Nice! All my stuff is pretty contrasty as well. But my reasoning for it is just because I'm obsessed with comic books. :-)

June 12, 2015 at 11:53PM, Edited June 12, 11:53PM

0
Reply
avatar
Donovan Vim Crony
Director, DP, Editor, VFX, Sci-Fi Lover
249

I guess better shoot with a high dynamic range camera if the goal is to crush the details like this.

June 13, 2015 at 2:28AM

0
Reply
avatar
Multiflave
Director , Editor , Audio Engineer
166

Not so much 'crushing the details' as much as 'I want to be able to SEE my own movie'.

June 15, 2015 at 5:26AM

3
Reply
Anne Le Sauvage
Ethusiastic amateur editor
81

He shoots on Alexa, ain't nothing more hdr than that. Also, he's not crushing it. He achieves high contrast through lighting...

November 5, 2016 at 5:20PM, Edited November 5, 5:20PM

3
Reply
avatar
Oscar Stegland
DP/Steadicam
932

Pretty interesting. It reminds me a little of Christopher Nolan's somewhat muted, distilled color choices, which I always felt probably reflect his color blindness on some level.

June 17, 2015 at 4:45AM

5
Reply
avatar
Philip Heinrich
Director, Producer
934

I didn't know he was color blind.

June 1, 2016 at 8:06PM

3
Reply
avatar
Nathan Taylor
Jack of all trades, master of none
455

Colour blind is one thing, but the spelling?

November 5, 2016 at 2:54PM

1
Reply
avatar
Andy Reynolds
Film maker and Music Composer
74

Color blind or not, I made a video specifically about the color in Bronson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQunOFr7kGM - I think Refn harnesses color better than most working directors today!

January 19, 2017 at 2:34PM

5
Reply
avatar
Sean Pettis
Filmmaker
333