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SPOILERS: Copenhagen Cowboy Pigs Motif Explained

January 6, 2023

Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn remains best known for Ryan Gosling’s dramatic thriller Drive, but his work has since become more experimental and divisive, with films such as Only God Forgives and The Neon Demon acclaimed by some and outright rejected by others.

After those though, he tackled a new medium and dove into TV with the 2019 miniseries Too Old To Die Young.

Now Nicolas has continued to navigate the medium with Copenhagen Cowboy, a noir-infused thriller that incorporates a wide range of genres to deliver something that feels undeniably unique.

As audiences start with Episode 1, it’s already clear that there’s some sort of concern for the pigs, and that continues throughout all six episodes…


Angela Bundalovic as Miu sitting in a flower garden in Copenhagen CowboyCopenhagen cowboy. COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2022

Presence of pigs at Copenhagen Cowboy

The series actually opens with a picture of pigs in a slaughterhouse and we come back to this scene several times throughout the series. One of the reasons the opening shot is so important is because it’s a character’s near-fatal death scene later on.

A character is knocked unconscious and almost eaten alive by the pigs in one episode.

We also learn that gangsters also force a restaurant owner to give the corpses of their victims to the pigs she owns. “No body, no crime,” she explains to Miu (Angela Bundalovic), our protagonist.

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Not only are the pigs a visual motif, but a range of characters also make pig noises.

For example, Episode 1 sees Rosella’s husband making pig squeals when he feels pleasure and pain. So what is it?


Copenhagen Cowboy Pig Pattern Explanation

Ultimately, Copenhagen Cowboy’s pigs serve as a reminder – both audio and visual – of man’s animal nature.

The line between animal and human is often blurred in the series, and the act of the pigs consuming the man reflects the series’ violence. Like pigs, ruthless characters have appetites that cannot be satisfied.

In the world of man and pig, there are no morals. Only a need to consume driven by pure gluttony.

When it comes to animals, pigs are generally considered unclean, and that’s a near-perfect label for many of the characters you’ll find throughout Nicolas’ directorial output, especially here.


“Hollywood is very seductive and intoxicating”

Nicolas recently talked about the Crew Call podcast [per Deadline] and opened up about maintaining its independence in the industry:

“Hollywood is very seductive and intoxicating, but it’s also a system that is hopelessly collapsing. And I think they do it more than anything else. Who knows? I would love to do something grand and big, but I would like to keep my freedom, my impulse and my creative control.

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He added: “If you don’t have the power to control at the end of the day or the ability to manipulate in your favor, it’s a committee.”

Copenhagen Cowboy is streaming exclusively on Netflix.

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