Legendary English filmmaker Ridley Scott turns 84 today. He’s behind some of the most influential genre films ever made – whether it’s futuristic science fiction like Blade Runner or a period piece like Gladiator, he seems to have solid command over his craft, no matter when it’s story is set.
This year, Scott has released two major films, The Last Duel and The House of Gucci, and it seems that more than 80 have not influenced his enthusiasm for filmmaking.
Here are his top 5 movies.
5. The Marsman
Ridley Scott’s best quality is his grip on every film genre, but science fiction seems to be something he has a certain flair for. Starring Matt Damon, The Martian is about an astronaut stranded on Mars, who must survive long enough to wait for NASA to bring him safely back to Earth. The film is beautifully directed with a pacing that is just right for a story like this. But above all, it’s very funny, something that would not appear from the logline.
The Duel Lists
The first film made by Scott, The Duellists remains one of his best. Based on a short story by the Polish-British writer Joseph Conrad, the period drama of the Napoleonic Wars in 1977 may indicate the filmmaker’s penchant for story based on duels in pre-modern France. The Duellists is a good-looking, amazingly detailed movie. Even after more than 40 years, the camera work impresses.
With this Russell Crowe star, it is said that Scott has brought the genre back to life. The truly epic looking film, with an enormous budget for those times, Gladiator was about Crowe’s titular Roman general Maximus whose family is assassinated by the rising emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), who even his father, the former emperor, thought it was not fit to govern. Maximus becomes a gladiator, warriors who fought against other gladiators, criminals and animals sentenced to death for the amusement of the nobles. Gladiator is a true cinematic achievement.
2. Blade Runner
The film is set in a future where bioengineered humanoid servants called replicants exist. Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard is an ex-cop who has been tasked with ‘retiring’ four non-cooperative replicants. The film is not only a visual feast, that is to say, but its story is thematically rich and raises complex questions about the nature of reality, what it means to be human, and so on. The monologue of replicant Roy Batt (Rutger Hauer) remains one of the most exciting in the film. “I’ve seen things your people do not believe. Attacking ships on fire from Orion’s shoulder. I saw C-beams glistening in the darkness at the Tannhauserpoort. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rein. “
Alien should be the best Ridley Scott movie, though Blade Runner comes close. A landmark of a sci-fi horror film, it remains one of the best of its genre. Even now, the slowburn style that leads to a terrible climax is as frightening as it was then. It also gave us one of the greatest heroines of cinema: Ellen Ripley of Sigourney Weaver. Unlike most of the main female characters of the 1970s, Ripley was intelligent, practical, and above all ruthless, who knew what needed to be done to counter the extraterrestrial threat looming on the spaceship Nostromo.