The Copenhagen Cowboy mini-series is a new work by Danish art-house director Nicolas Winding Refn, who is widely known in narrow circles. Refn is one of those creators who is famous for his ingrained style, and he does not change himself again. Its formula is always something like this – a criminal world full of violence, plus a surreal component. Refn’s films are strictly for amateurs, they are not suitable for those who prefer dynamic blockbusters and stories with a transparent plot. Copenhagen Cowboy is another intricate puzzle game that leaves a lot of room for interpretation and meaning. But first things first.
Miu is a mysterious girl with an unusual “boyish” appearance, very petite and fragile. She remembers little about her past, but in the present she is in captivity because she has no documents. The heroine only knows that she was once sold to society by her own mother. In Copenhagen, many have heard of Miu – it is believed that she brings good luck, like some kind of religious talisman. For a reward, she passes from one person to another, fulfilling their desires.
So Miu gets to Rosella, an elderly woman who runs a brothel. The girls who are there, like Miu, have no papers and cannot escape. Rosella dreams of getting pregnant despite her age and hopes that the guest will help her with this. Together with her, her brother Andre, who is a local music star, runs the brothel. There, Miu meets Simone, a beautiful and kind girl, who is soon brutally murdered. Rosella tries to trick Miu into paying, which leads to conflict. But their brothel is only the beginning of the heroine’s journey. She will not only have to meet new people who pose a threat, but also meet old enemies who once treated her badly.
As already mentioned, a mixture of crime and mysticism is what has the proper effect on the viewer. At first glance, these things seem poorly combined, but in fact, in the skillful hands of the director, they perfectly complement each other. The series covers absolutely all criminal areas – prostitution, contract and spontaneous killings, drug trafficking, human hunting, child abduction, cannibalism, incest and much more.
The director literally relishes the underground life of the Danish capital. Through his efforts, it seems that there is not a single corner in the world where the horrors committed by people would not occur, and everything good and bright has suddenly disappeared somewhere. The bandits in the series are inhumane, and even when they do noble deeds, they do it not because of their conscience, but following their own “code”. There are no positive ones among these characters, even Mother Hulda, who at first appears as an unfortunate woman, a victim of an influential boss, deceives Miu in order to arouse her sympathy and achieve what she wants.
But in addition to ordinary, human evil in the face of drug dealers and pimps, there is also infernal evil, embodied in the image of a family of pig breeders. There is already a transition to the mystical. This aristocratic family, as if descended from the covers of magazines, has been living in the world for many centuries. Adored son Nicholas has fun killing young girls and throwing their bodies into the river, his father is seriously proud of the fact that his main activity is to travel the world and leave his seed everywhere. He considers his reproductive organ a world treasure.
A cold-blooded mother does not disdain sexual advances with her own son. But the most important member of the family is the youngest daughter Raquel, who, as it turns out, is a creature like Miu, and is also her opposite and antagonist. Raquel had been in hibernation for many years until her brother decided to wake her up.
But what about Miu herself? At first, the viewer becomes very scared for the girl. When she comes into conflict with Rosella, she threatens to boil her alive in a vat, but decides it’s better to give her brother Andre to make her one of the sex slaves. Miu seems very vulnerable, and the viewer expects that bullying is about to begin on her. But, the further the action goes, the more it becomes clear that nothing bad would happen to the heroine. She is modest, silent and, at first glance, submissive, but in fact her calmness does not mean reconciliation with a terrible fate, but the confidence with which she is aware of her abilities.
She seems to be watching the bloody world of violence from the side, realizing that she will not become its victim. On the contrary, any of these people can easily become its victim. The heroine has a variety of abilities. She can not only make plants bloom or cure migraines with the power of thought, but she can even revive a person. In addition, despite the outward fragility and the fact that she practically does not eat, she has impressive physical strength and is proficient in martial arts. Who the heroine is – will remain a mystery, small clues will be only in the final.
It is quite difficult to single out any specific images that would clearly refer to something. The whole series is one continuous image, there are so many of them in the narrative that a complete feeling of separation from reality is created despite the real world being shown. Pigs play an important role in the plot. Phrases are repeatedly slipped that pork meat is very healthy, while the bandits feed the corpses of people to the same pigs, wanting to cover their tracks. There is also a character named Sven – Rosalia’s husband, who grunts instead of human speech, however, he behaves accordingly.
Refn rarely, when could not do without Asian culture and the image of martial arts – here it is also reflected in the face of the leader of the mafia boss Mr. Chen. Chen is also one of the main enemies of the heroine, and their colorful final battle does not take place in reality, but her finale turns out to be quite real. And, of course, the pretentiousness inherent in the director is also present here – these are bright neon colors and sometimes grotesque clothes of the characters, representing something between rustic style and high fashion. Much of the action takes place in the forest. The forest in the series is an observer who, nevertheless, also keeps his sinister secrets.
The series finale answers some questions, but not all. It can be assumed that Miu is the embodiment of good forces (which is also debatable, because she killed people, albeit bandits), and Raquel is the embodiment of evil, but the heroines have the same, so to speak, structure. This is also evidenced by the fact that at the end they are dressed in the same tracksuits, but in different colors. Miu in the forest meets a lot of girls from “her” side, in blue suits.
They say that they have been waiting for Miu for a long time, and now she has the opportunity to learn more about herself. At the same time, the heroine feels that evil has broken free in the face of Raquel, an evil so powerful that it surpasses Miu in strength dozens of times. That is why the real horror is depicted on the girl’s face. Also, from the mysterious interlocutor of one of the bandits named Miroslav, the viewer learns that Miu is a spirit, and only certain creatures called Giants are stronger than spirits. Miu and Raquel never meet face-to-face, and this is either a deliberate understatement or Refn hurt for the second season.