Sir Ridley Scott (born November 30, 1937 in South Shields) is an influential British film director and film producer|producer. He directed the groundbreaking science fiction film Blade Runner in 1982.
Scott grew up in an Army family meaning that for most of his early life his father - an officer in the Royal Engineering Corp - was absent. Ridley's older brother Frank Scott joined the Merchant Navy when he was still young and the pair had little contact. After the war the Scott family moved to Germany and then settled in Teesside. He 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 photography course 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 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) filmed in Shaftesbury—he graduated to Hollywood, where he produced and directed a number of top boxoffice 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 and 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 which would give him international recognition. While he would not direct the following three sequels, the female action hero Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) which he created in the first film, would become a cinematic icon.
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 for the film) even though he was reluctant to follow up with another science-fiction film. Blade Runner was initially a flop when released to theaters in 1982, and was pulled shortly after its release. However, it would eventually achieve cult status through re-release on television and through home video.
Scott released a Director's Cut of the film to theaters in 1991 which removed the original voiceovers and modified the ending. Some consider the Director's Cut a vast improvement over the original version released in theaters; however, others feel the original with Harrison Ford's narration and an alternative ending was 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.
"1984" Apple Macintosh commercial
In 1984, Apple Computer launched the Macintosh. It's debut was announced by a single broadcast of the now famous $1.5 million commercial, based on George Orwell's novel 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 consistently ranked #1 in ad lists. TV Guide ranked it as the greatest commercial of all time.
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 Ridley and Tony Scott purchased a controlling interest in Shepperton Studios that was later merged with Pinewood Studios.
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. In 2005, Scott attempted to follow it up with 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.
Scott is teaming up again with actor Russell Crowe, directing the movie A Good Year, which is based on the best selling book. The movie is in post-production status and awaiting release.
Future projects include Shadow Divers for 2007 and the often rumoured Penetration (production notes about it are still unknown though). Scott is currently in talks for yet another teaming up with actor Russell Crowe for the movie American Gangster. If signed, Scott would work for the first time with actor Denzel Washington.
Currently five members of the Scott family are directors, all working for RSA.
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 the action, where he then does very rapid editing. A prime example of that is Alien and Blade Runner. A critic once went so far as to call it 'Blade Crawler, because it's so damn slow'.
Another trademark of his is sound or music, used normally to build tension - as seen in Alien with hissing steam, beeping computers and the sounds 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, a 2002 revised "director's cut" that is closer to Scott's original vision, and its close resemblence to the popular video game series The Legend of Zelda.
Although Scott is often known for the striking visuals appearing on his films, other trademarks on his behalf are:
- Strong female characters featured often in his movies. Some speculate that him being raised singlehandedly by his mother could be the cause.
- Often features the military and officer classes as characters reflecting his father's career.
- 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 Gladiator.
- Gets involved personally in the casting and prefers a more personal casting (just him and the casting director).
- Likes to work with actors who have a strong theater 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 adverts, Someone to Watch Over Me). Worked intermittently on the project of a film adaptation of the Opera Tristan and Isolde beginning in 1976.
- Extensive use of fans and fanlike objects (in Blade Runner and Black Rain), fans are used in Hannibal also, but for the purposes of symbolism.
- Extensive use of smoke (in Alien, Blade Runner and Black Rain).
- Frequently uses music by either Jerry Goldsmith (Alien / Legend), Vangelis (Blade Runner/ 1492: Conquest of Paradise) or Hans Zimmer (Black Rain/ Thelma & Louise/Gladiator/ Hannibal / Black Hawk Down / Matchstick Men).
- Actors who have worked with Scott often say he spends more time with the sets than with the actors. Among those who have reportedly said this is Harrison Ford, who complained that his relationship with Scott left a lot to be desired. But writer Paul M. Sammon, known for his work on Future Noir, said Scott's relationship with his actors has improved considerably over the years.
- Shadow Divers (2007)
- A Good Year (2006): Post-production
- All The Invisible Children (a.k.a. Take 7) (2006)
- Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
- Matchstick Men (2003)
- Black Hawk Down (2001)
- Hannibal (2001)
- Gladiator]] (2000)
- G.I. Jane (1997)
- White Squall (1996)
- 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992)
- Thelma and Louise (1991)
- Black Rain (1989)
- Someone to Watch Over Me (1987)
- Legend (1985)
- Blade Runner (1982)
- Alien (1979)
- The Duellists (1977)
- Boy and Bicycle (1965)