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Sir Ridley Scott (born November 30, 1937 in South
Shields) is an influential English film director and producer.
Scott grew up in an Army family, meaning that for most of his early
life his father an officer in the Royal Engineers
was absent. Ridley's older brother, Frank, joined the Merchant Navy
when he was still young and the pair had little contact. During
this time the family moved around living in, amongst other areas,
Cumbria, Wales and Germany. After the Second World War the Scott
family moved back to their native north-east England, eventually
settling in Teesside (whose industrial landscape would later inspire
similar scenes in Blade Runner). Scott studied there, from 1954
to 1958, at the West Hartlepool College of Art, graduating with
a Diploma in Design. He was to progress to an M.A. in graphic design
at London's Royal College of Art from 1960 to 1962. There, he was
to contribute to the college magazine, ARK, and help to establish
its film department. For his final show he made a black and white
short film, Boy and Bicycle, starring his younger brother, Tony
Scott, and his father. The film's main visual elements would become
features of Scott's later work. After graduation in 1963 he secured
a traineeship as a set designer with the BBC, leading him to work
on the popular television police series Z-Cars and the science fiction
series Out of the Unknown. He was also assigned to design the second
Doctor Who serial, The Daleks, which would have entailed realising
the famous alien creatures. However, shortly before he was due to
start work a schedule conflict meant that he was replaced on the
serial by Raymond Cusick. At the BBC, Scott was placed into a directing
training programme and before he left the corporation had directed
episodes of Z-Cars, its spin-off, Softly Softly and adventure series
Adam Adamant Lives!.
Scott quit the BBC in 1968 and established an advertising company,
Ridley Scott Associates, working with Sir Alan Parker, Hugh Hudson,
Hugh Johnson and employing his younger brother, Tony. Having cut
his teeth on UK television commercials in the 1970s most
notably the 1974 Hovis advert, "Bike Round" (New World
Symphony), which was filmed in Shaftesbury he graduated to
Hollywood, where he produced and directed a number of top box office
films. His first feature, The Duellists, was produced in Europe
and won a jury medal at the Cannes Film Festival but made limited
impact in the US.
Scott's disappointment with The Duellists was compounded by the
success being enjoyed by Alan Parker with American-backed films
admitting he was "ill for a week" with envy. Scott
had originally planned to next adapt an opera, Tristan und Isolde,
but after seeing Star Wars, he became convinced of the potential
of large scale, effects-driven films. He thus accepted the job of
directing Alien, the 1979 ground-breaking horror/science fiction
film that would give him international recognition. It has become
widely accepted that the latter, along with his other sci-fi achievement,
Blade Runner, are considered among some of the finest movies ever
made in the genre. While Ridley Scott would not direct the three
Alien sequels, the female action hero Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver),
whom he depicted in the first film, would become a cinematic icon.
Scott was involved in the 2003 restoration and re-release of the
film including media interviews for its promotion. At this time
Scott indicated that he had been in discussions to make the fifth
and final film in the Alien franchise.
After a year working on the film adaptation of Dune, Scott signed
to direct the film version of Philip K. Dick's novel, Do Androids
Dream of Electric Sheep, (which would be retitled as Blade Runner),
following the sudden death of his brother Frank. Starring Harrison
Ford and featuring an acclaimed soundtrack by Vangelis, Blade Runner
was a flop when released to theatres in 1982, and was pulled shortly
thereafter. However, it would eventually achieve cult status through
re-issue on television and through home video. Scott's notes were
used by Warner Brothers to create a rushed director's cut in 1991
which removed the voiceovers and modified the ending. Some believe
this to be a vast improvement however, others feel the original
is the better film. Today Blade Runner is considered one of the
most important science fiction films of the 20th century and is
usually discussed along with William Gibson's novel Neuromancer
as initiating the cyberpunk genre. Scott personally supervised a
digitally restored Blade Runner and approved the Final Cut to be
released in 2007.
"1984" Apple Macintosh commercial
In 1984, Apple Computer launched the Macintosh. Its debut was announced
by a single broadcast of the now famous $1.5 million commercial,
based on George Orwell's 1984, and directed by Ridley Scott (due
to his work on Blade Runner). The commercial was broadcast during
the 1984 Super Bowl XVIII. Steve Jobs' intention with the ad was
to equate Big Brother with the IBM PC and a nameless female action
hero, portrayed by Anya Major, with the Macintosh.
The commercial is frequently voted top in surveys
of influential marketing campaigns. For example, Advertising Age
named it the 1980s "Commercial of the Decade", and in
1999 the US TV Guide selected it as number one in their list of
"50 Greatest Commercials of All Time".
The film resurfaced in the late 1990s when Apple made
a QuickTime version of the commercial available for download from
the Internet. It appeared numerous times on television commercial
compilation specials, as well as on Nick At Nite during its "Retromercial"
Thelma & Louise
Thelma & Louise was released in 1991 and stars Geena Davis as
Thelma, Susan Sarandon as Louise, and Harvey Keitel as a sympathetic
detective trying to solve crimes that the two women find easier
and easier to commit. The movie proved to be a success and revived
Scott's reputation as a film maker, earning his first Oscar nomination.
Scott's next project was the independent movie 1492: Conquest of
Paradise, a visually striking take on the story of Christopher Columbus,
yet usually considered to be his most slowly paced movie.
In 1995 Scott, together with his brother Tony, formed the film and
television production company Scott Free Productions in Los Angeles.
All of his subsequent feature films, starting with White Squall,
have been produced under the Scott Free banner. Also in 1995, the
two brothers purchased a controlling interest in Shepperton Studios
that was later merged with Pinewood Studios. Scott and his brother
are currently producing (since 2005) the CBS series Numb3rs. It
is a crime drama focused on a mathematician who helps the FBI solve
crimes using his genius ability in mathematics.
Gladiator and beyond
The huge success of Scott's film Gladiator (2000) has been credited
with the revival of the nearly defunct genre of the "sword
and sandal" historical epic. Black Hawk Down (2001) further
re-established Scott's position as both a critically and financially
successful film maker and went on to earn two Oscars.
In 2005, the director made the less successful Kingdom
of Heaven, a movie about the Crusades that consciously sought to
connect history to current events. While on location in Morocco
during the filming Scott reported receiving death threats from Islamist
extremists. It was reported that the Moroccan government sent hundreds
of soldiers to protect the set and crew. However, the Moroccan cavalry
were actually on hand as extras in the epic battle-scenes. Unhappy
with the theatrical version of the film (which he blamed on paying
too much attention to the opinions of preview audiences), Scott
has supervised a director's cut of Kingdom of Heaven, which was
released on DVD in 2006, to critical acclaim. A video interview
with Scott speaking to STV on the new cut can be found here. In
a recent interview, when asked if he was against previewing in general,
Scott had this to say on the subject:
"It depends who's in the driving seat. If
you've got a lunatic doing my job, then you need to preview. But
a good director should be experienced enough to judge what he thinks
is the correct version to go out into the cinema."
Scott is teaming up again with actor Russell Crowe, directing the
movie A Good Year, which is based on the best-selling book. The
film's release is scheduled for 10 November 2006, and with a score
by Marc Stretenfield.
Future projects include Shadow Divers for 2007 and
the rumoured Penetration and The Invisible World (production notes
about both movies are still unknown). Scott is currently filming
American Gangster, working again with Russell Crowe and for the
first time with Denzel Washington. He also has a historical epic
Tripoli planned, with Russell Crowe and Ben Kingsley attached, and
a western in development, Blood Meridian, based on the book by Cormac
Currently five members of the Scott family are directors,
all working for RSA. Brother Tony has been a successful film director
for more than two decades; sons Jake (40) and Luke (37) are both
acclaimed commercials directors as is daughter Jordan (27). Jake
and Jordan both work from Los Angeles and Luke is based in London.
His striking visual style, incorporating a detailed approach to
production design and innovative, atmospheric lighting, has been
tremendously influential on an entire subsequent generation of filmmakers
many of whom have simply imitated him outright. Scott commonly
uses very slow pacing until an action sequence, which is characterised
by many rapid edits. Prime examples of this technique are Alien
and Blade Runner. The critic Sheila Benson went so far as to call
the latter "Blade Crawler" in the LA Times, "because
it's so damn slow." Another trademark is his use of sound or
music to build tension, as seen in Alien with hissing steam, beeping
computers and the noise of the machinery in the space ship.
Scott has been nominated for three Academy Awards for Directing.
He was knighted in the 2003 New Year Honours.
Although some of his films have been highly praised, others have
been less successful with audiences and critics. G.I. Jane and Hannibal
are the two major works most often attacked by critics, while 1492:
Conquest of Paradise was a major commercial failure. Legend (1985)
was, like Blade Runner three years before, an initial box-office
disaster, but it too has since found cult status thanks to Jerry
Goldsmith's critically acclaimed (but rarely heard) score, featured
on a 2002 director's cut that is closer to Scott's original vision.
Actors who have worked with Scott often consider that
he puts more emphasis on the sets or lining up shots than with them.
Such criticisms have come from Harrison Ford, who complained that
his relationship with Scott left a lot to desire. Paul M. Sammon,
in his book Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner, commented about
this in an interview with Brmovie.com, stating that Scott's relationship
with his actors has improved considerably over the years.
Although Scott is often known for his painterly directorial style,
other trademarks include:
- Strong female characters. Some speculate that his being raised
by a single parent, his mother, could be the cause.
- Military and officer classes as characters reflecting his father's
- Extensive use of the two camera "V" set-up, allowing
actors to perform more fluidly.
- Casts Giannina Facio, his partner in life, in all his movies
since White Squall.
- Gets involved personally in the casting and prefers a more streamlined
approach (just him and the casting director).
- Likes to work with actors who have a strong theatre background
and/or drama school graduates.
- An admirer of Stanley Kubrick from early in his development.
For his entry for the BBC traineeship Scott remade Paths of Glory
as a short film.
- Like Stanley Kubrick, Scott is known for repeating the takes
by the double digits. This was more evident on Blade Runner: the
crew nicknamed the movie "Blood Runner" because of this.
- Often makes notable use of classical music (the Hovis advertisements,
Someone to Watch Over Me). Worked intermittently on the project
of a film adaptation of the opera Tristan und Isolde beginning
- Extensive use of fans and fanlike objects (in Blade Runner and
Black Rain). Fans are also used in Hannibal, but for the purposes
- Extensive use of smoke (in Alien, Blade Runner and Black Rain),
for visual aesthetic purposes: Scott sometimes takes hours to
set up one scene.
- Consistency in his choice of composers, using the late Jerry
Goldsmith (Alien and Legend), Vangelis (Blade Runner and 1492:
Conquest of Paradise) or Hans Zimmer (Black Rain, Thelma &
Louise, Gladiator, Hannibal, Black Hawk Down and Matchstick Men).
Scott has also twice used songs by Sting during the film credits
("Valparaiso" for White Squall and "Someone to
Watch Over Me" for the movie of the same title).
- He is usually considered the "father" of the director's
cut. Scott was one of the first to use the description for the
1992 re-release of Blade Runner (other such films existed, but
were either small fan-oriented versions that carried the name
"Special Edition" or were forcefully edited by the studio).
The positive result of the Blade Runner DC has encouraged Scott
to re-cut several of his movies that were flops at the time of
their release (such as Legend and Kingdom of Heaven) with the
same positive results. Today the practice is commonplace within
the movie industry.
- In some of his movies there is a strong conflict between father
and son that usually ends with the latter killing the former intentionally
(Blade Runner, Gladiator) or accidentally (Black Hawk Down), or
witnessing the event (Kingdom of Heaven).
Scott is known for his enthusiasm for the DVD format, providing
audio commentaries and interviews for all his films wherever possible.
In the July 2006 issue of Total Film magazine, he stated:
"After all the work we go through, to have it run in the cinema
and then disappear forever is a great pity. To give the film added
life is really cool for both those who missed it and those who really
The special edition DVD's of Scott's films have been acclaimed
for their high quality picture and sound, as well as comprehensive
documentaries and commentaries, produced by his longtime DVD producer,
Charles de Lauzirika. Unlike many filmmakers, Scott is also well-known
for the honest, candid access he allows his DVD extras to explore.
- Among Scott's favourite films are Lawrence of Arabia, Citizen
Kane and The Seven Samurai.
- Russell Crowe nicknamed Scott "The Admiral of the Fleet"
during production of Gladiator. He still sometimes refers to the
director as "The Admiral".
- In contrast, he was nicknamed "Guvnor" in the famous
t-shirt fight of the Blade Runner production. Several crew members
started to wear protest t-shirts with slogans such as "Yes
Guvnor, my ass" and "Will Rogers never met Ridley Scott"
(in reference to Will Rogers' most famous quotation "I never
met a man I didn't like"). This was mainly in response to
the way that Scott directed his first American crew, which was
considered too harsh by their standards.
- Is often very receptive of ideas from the cast during the shooting
of movies. Examples of this including Susan Sarandon's suggestions
of Louise packing shoes in plastic bags in one scene, also where
her character exchanges jewelry for a hat, etc. in Thelma &
Louise, as well as Tim Robbins' collaboration with Ridley and
Susan Sarandon to rework the final scene with a more upbeat ending.
Blood Meridian (2007)
Shadow Divers (2007)
American Gangster (2007)
A Good Year (2006): finished, rumoured to be released in November
for Oscar consideration.
All the Invisible Children (a.k.a. Take 7) (2006)
Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
Matchstick Men (2003)
Black Hawk Down (2001)
G.I. Jane (1997)
White Squall (1996)
1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992)
Thelma & Louise (1991)
Black Rain (1989)
Someone to Watch Over Me (1987)
Blade Runner (1982)
The Duellists (1977)
Boy and Bicycle (1965)
In The News:
| Mon, 01 Apr 2013 17:37:14 GMT
Mon, 01 Apr 2013 11:06:16 GMT
5 Reasons A Ridley Scott Alien Prequel Would Be AmazingWhatCulture!Like every committed Alien fan out there I went to see Alien: Resurrection last November with an open mind after the mediocre Alien3. ?It can't be bad? I told myself. ?Joss Whedon wrote it so the script will be amazing,? I assured myself. While I've been denying ... Sun, 31 Mar 2013 14:09:17 GMT
Sun, 31 Mar 2013 07:16:21 GMT
A Look Back At Ridley Scott's CareerFemaleFirst.co.ukIn celebration of the upcoming DVD release of Labyrinth out on DVD 1st April from Universal Pictures (UK), a miniseries produced by Ridley & Tony Scott, let's take a look back at some of the amazing works that Sir Ridley Scott has created. Born and raised in ... Sat, 30 Mar 2013 22:15:12 GMT Sat, 30 Mar 2013 22:03:20 GMT Fri, 29 Mar 2013 19:20:05 GMT
Fri, 29 Mar 2013 03:34:24 GMT
Damon Lindelof Discusses 'Prometheus' SequelThe InquisitrDamon Lindelof Discusses 'Prometheus' Sequel. Posted: March 28, 2013. Damon Lindelof Discusses 'Prometheus' Sequel. Damon Lindelof, the screenwriter to Ridley Scott's Alien precursor, Prometheus, has been discussing the sequel to the prequel.and more » Thu, 28 Mar 2013 18:39:39 GMT
Thu, 28 Mar 2013 15:39:25 GMT
Ridley Scott's Company Will Battle the 'Fog'Bloody DisgustingScott Free has earmarked Stephen Fingleton's invasion film temporarily titled Fog as the likely first project on its anticipated genre slate, which it is producing with Focus Features International and Orchard Capital, reports Screen Daily. ?Fog charts a family's ...and more »
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