Question Rukudrithi Art, Media & Literature

Vapourwave and the Film 'Drive'

Arguments for Nicholas Winding Refn's Drive as a piece of early Vapourwave/Aesthetic media?

Did you know that we write custom assignments? We have experts in each specific subject area with vast experience. Get a complete answer and find out more about our writing services.

Answer Expert #735

Nicolas Winding Refn's 2011 movie, Drive, is a neo-noir crime thriller by genre but can be perceived as an early piece of Vapourwave and Aesthetic media. The opening scene can be interpreted as Vapourwave for several reasons. It exhibits a distinct beauty, drawing upon lighting to showcase the city at night and utilising only the radio as background sound. The perspective of the camera allows the audience to experience the film from within the car and therefore has a visual appeal that enhances the energy of the scene. The challenge to the privilege of the first person is evidenced throughout the movie (Vicari, 2014), as is the reordering of the conventional cultural tropes that underpin the narrative, and both features can be used to reinforce the idea that the movie is an early example of Vapourwave.

The elevator scene in particular highlights the movie's Vapourwave and Aesthetic traits. The most prominent is the fact that it provides "...a series of stunning visuals and graphic imagery that’s a prime example of how the film conveys so many ideas and emotions through images rather than words" (Barone, 2011, n. pag.). Although dialogue is absent from the scene, the music played over events frames the scene, slowing it down and making the kiss between Driver and Irene appear almost languid. This effect clearly adhered to Vapourwave ideas. Furthermore, the carefully designed sensory impact of the scene emphasises its relevance to Aesthetics, drawing upon emotions whilst tapping into the juxtaposition between the beauty of the kiss and the raw, brutal sound of the violence that follows.


Barone, M., (2011). Interview: Drive Director Nicolas Winding Refn Talks Ryan Gosling's Clout and Artistic Violence. Complex. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 28 October 2016].

Drive, (2011). [Film] Dir. by N. Winding Refn. USA: FilmDistrict.

Vicari, J., (2014). Nicolas Winding Refn and the Violence of Art: A Critical Study of the Films. Jefferson: McFarland.