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Nicolas Winding Refn Writes an Essay on the State of America, Calls Donald Trump a ‘Hand Grenade of Insanity’

"It’s terrifying. It is also thrilling," Refn says about Trump's America. "This is a very exciting time in our history."

Nicolas Winding Refn

Nicolas Winding Refn


Nicolas Winding Refn has spent the last several months in America filming his Amazon television series “Too Old to Die Young” in and around the Los Angeles area. Refn is not American, but he has been observing Trump’s America for much of the last year. In an essay written for The Guardian, the Danish filmmaker marked the Fourth of July holiday by sharing his thoughts on both Trump and the current state of America.

“This is a frightening time to be alive,” Refn writes at the start of the essay. “For the past six months, I’ve been shooting in America, and it seems increasingly clear we’re now living in a dystopian reality TV show. America has always had a tendency towards the operatic but, fuelled by the hand grenade of insanity that is Donald Trump, it’s reached new heights of hysteria. This means even the smallest developments are heralded as either the end of the world or the second coming.”

Refn called Trump’s impact both “terrifying” and “thrilling,” noting it’s a “very exciting time in our history.” “We are appalled by what we witness unfolding each day – essentially, the destruction of the American way of life by its own administration,” Refn writes, “but we’re also inescapably gripped by it.”

According to Refn, Americans need to “embrace such an apocalyptic time.” The director reasons that out of darkness comes light and the benefit of Trump’s presidency is in getting people to wake up to the hypocrisy of the men in power.

“Whenever there’s any kind of enormous global shakeup, there’s bound to be paranoia and insanity, but out of earthquakes come opportunities,” Refn writes. “Even Trump’s fierce arrogance and distaste for his fellow man is good. It’s revealed how many people and politicians share such a view, and our exposure to such hypocrisy is healthy.”

“We need to be pushed out of our comfort zones – of complacency, and, for most of us in the west, an easeful life,” the director continues. “I’m not advocating physical pain, but I do believe mental pain can be a way to stimulate and reset the brain.”

Choosing to see the glass half full, Refn concludes that the older voters who allowed Trump to win the White House won’t be the people who inherit the US in the future. The director writes “the past was rarely this scary,” but maintains it’s up to everyone to remained focus if we want the country to succeed in the future.

“Donald Trump was elected on the promise he’d make America great again,” Refn writes. “Older voters rushed at the chance to return to a comforting fairytale. But they are not the same people who will inherit the US and have to heal its divisions.”

Refn’s essay can be read in its entirety on The Guardian. The director’s “Too Old to Die Young” is expected to debut on Amazon in 2019.

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