For the best description of Nicolas Winding Refn's upcoming film Only God Forgives, look no further than star Ryan Gosling - during a New York Times interview this past March, the subject of the film came up, and its obvious comparisons to Refn's last Gosling-starring film, Drive.

"Drive is a dream," Gosling told the paper. "Only God Forgives is a nightmare."

After seeing all of the new promotional material that's been rolling out for Only God Forgives, we couldn't agree more - whereas Drive seemed was set in the sleepless streets of LA, Only God Forgives calls a neon-lit Bangkok its home, thus setting a dream-like tone to the film. Of course, in addition to the massive amounts of violence, served up by a brooding, stoic Gosling.

The previously released trailers (one, two) have given us somewhat of a good idea of what to expect from the film, but nothing gives more insight into the project than this new director's statement from Refn himself. "The original concept for the film was to make a movie about a man who wants to fight God," he explained. "When I was writing the film, I was going through some very existential times in my life...and the idea of having a character who wants to fight God without knowing why very much appealed to me."

Here is the full director's statement, courtesy of Indiewire:

The original concept for the film was to make a movie about a man who wants to fight God. That is, of course, a very vast obstacle but when I was writing the film, I was going through some very existential times in my life - we were expecting our second child and it was a difficult pregnancy - and the idea of having a character who wants to fight God without knowing why very much appealed to me.

With that as the concept, I elaborated by adding a character who believes he is God (Chang), obviously the antagonist, with the protagonist being a gangster who is looking for religion to believe in (Julian). This itself is, of course, very existential because faith is based on the need for a higher answer but most of the time, we don’t know what the question is. When the answer comes, then, we must backtrack our lives in order to find the question. In this way, the film is conceived as an answer, with the question revealed at the end.

With hindsight, I am able to see the similarities between Chang and One Eye in Valhalla Rising, and Driver in Drive - all are rooted in fairytale mythology and have difficulties living in the everyday world. I can see that technically, there is a resemblance in their stoic behavior, silence, and fetishistic portraits even though they live in different times and are portrayed by different actors. In Valhalla Rising, One Eye is enigmatic - we don’t know his past but he is defined by his name. In Drive, Driver is defined by his function. And in Only God Forgives, Chang is first of all defined by his enigmatic behaviour, to such an extent that he becomes a disembodied character, an ‘it’, defined not by his name but solely by his image.

In a way, Only God Forgives is like an accumulation of all the films I’ve made so far. I think I was heading toward a creative collision, full speed ahead, in order to change everything around me and to see what would come after. I have always said that I set out to make films about women but I end up making films about violent men. Now that everything is colliding, it may end up turning things upside-down for me. This collision is exciting because everything around me becomes so uncertain and we must not forget that the second enemy of creativity, after having ‘good taste’, is being safe.

Only God Forgives is set to hit theaters on July 19th. You can check out some new stills from the film above.

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[via Blackbook Mag]