Scott, Ridley 1937(?)-

views updated Jun 08 2018

Scott, Ridley 1937(?)-


Born November 30, 1937 (some sources cite 1939), in South Shields, England; son of Elizabeth Jean Scott; brother of Tony Scott (a director); married Felicity Heywood, March 1965 (divorced, 1975); married Sandy Watson, May 24, 1979 (divorced, 1989); children: three, including Jake (a director of music videos) and Jordan. Education: Attended Royal College of Art, London, and West Hartlepool College of Art.


Director and producer. British Broadcasting Corp., worked as set designer and director, early 1960s; Ridley Scott Associates (commercial production company), partner with brother, Tony Scott, c. 1967—; director of almost 3000 television commercials, including advertisements for Chanel perfumes, 1979, Apple computers, 1984, and Barilla pasta, 1992.


Directors Guild of America.

Awards, Honors:

Venice Film Festival award for commercial work; Award for Best First Work and nomination for Golden Palm, both Cannes Film Festival, 1977, David Award, best director—foreign film, David di Donatello Awards, 1978, for The Duellists; Saturn Award, best director, Academy of Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy Films, 1980, for Alien; Czech Lion, best foreign-language film, Czech Film and Television Academy, and International Fantasy Film Award nomination, best film, Fantasporto, 1982, Saturn Award nomination, best director, 1983, for Blade Runner, and International Fantasy Film Award nomination, 1993, for Blade Runner: Director's Cut; International Fantasy Film Award nomination, best film, 1988, for Someone to Watch over Me; Academy Award nomination, best director, Film Award nominations, best direction and best film, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, London Film Critics Circle Award, director of the year, and Bodil Award, best American film, Bodil Festival, Golden Spike Award, Valladolid International Film Festival, 1991, Cesar Award nomination, best foreign film, Directors Guild of America Award nomination, outstanding directorial achievement, 1992, for Thelma and Louise; Michael Balcon Award, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1995; Emmy Award nomination (with others), outstanding movie made for television, 1999, for RKO 281; Golden Globe Award nomination, best director of a motion picture, Directors Guild of America Award nomination, outstanding directorial achievement in motion pictures, Golden Satellite Award nomination, best director, International Press Academy, Five Continents Award nomination, European Film Awards, Sierra Award nomination, best director, Las Vegas Film Critics Society, Empire Award nomination, best British director, 2000, ALFS Award nomination, British director of the year, London Critics Circle Film Awards, Academy Award nomination, best director, Saturn Award nomination, best director, David Lean Award for direction nomination, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Video Premiere Award nomination, best DVD audio commentary, DVD Exclusive Awards, 2001, all for Gladiator; Lifetime Achievement Award, Palm Springs International Film Festival, 2001; AFI Award nominations, director of the year and movie of the year (with Jerry Bruckheimer), American Film Institute, Academy Award nomination, best director, Directors Guild of America Award nomination, outstanding directorial achievement, 2002, for Black Hawk Down; Emmy Award, outstanding made for television movie (with others), 2002, Television Producer of the Year Award in longform nomination (with others), Producers Guild of America Golden Laurel Awards, 2003, for The Gathering Storm; DVDX Award, best audio commentary (with others), DVD Exclusive Awards, 2003, for Alien; DVD Premiere Award nomination, best audio commentary, 2003, for Legend; Film Excellence Award, Boston Film Festival, 2003, George Pal Memorial Award, for lifetime achievement, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films, 2004.


Film Director:

Boy on a Bicycle (short film), 1965.

The Duellists, Paramount, 1977.

Alien, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1979.

Blade Runner, Warner Bros., 1982, modified and re-released as Blade Runner: The Director's Cut, 1992.

Legend, Universal, 1985.

Someone to Watch over Me, Columbia, 1987.

Black Rain, Paramount, 1989.

Thelma and Louise, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1991.

1492: Conquest of Paradise (also known as 1492: Christophe Colomb, 1492: La conquete du paradis, and 1492: La conquista del paraiso), 1992. Monkey Trouble (also known as Pet), 1994.

White Squall, Buena Vista, 1996.

G.I. Jane, Buena Vista, 1997.

Clay Pigeons, Gramercy Pictures, 1998.

Gladiator, DreamWorks Distribution, 2000.

Hannibal, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Universal, 2001.

Black Hawk Down, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 2001.

Cinema16: British Short Films, Momac, 2003.

Matchstick Men, Warner Bros., 2003.

Kingdom of Heaven (also known as Konigreich der himmel and El Reino de los cielos), Twentieth Century-Fox, 2005.

All the Invisible Children (also known as Les Enfants invisibles), Paris, 2005.

A Good Year, Gemini, 2005.

American Gangster, Universal, 2007.

Body of Lies, Warner Bros., 2008.

Film Producer:

Boy and Bicycle (also known as Boy on a Bicycle), 1965.

(With Mimi Polk) Thelma and Louise, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1991.

1492: Conquest of Paradise (also known as 1492: Christophe Colomb, 1492: La conquete du paradis, and 1492: La conquista del paraiso), 1992.

The Browning Version, 1994.

G.I. Jane, Buena Vista, 1997.

Clay Pigeons, Gramercy Pictures, 1998.

Where the Money Is (also known as Ein heisser coup), USA Films, 2000.

Hannibal, United International, 2001.

Black Hawk Down, Sony, 2001.

Matchstick Men, Warner Bros., 2003.

Kingdom of Heaven (also known as Konigreich der himmel and El Reino de los cielos), Twentieth Century-Fox, 2005.

In Her Shoes, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2005.

A Good Year, Gemini, 2005.

American Gangster, Universal, 2007.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (also known as The Assassination of Jesse James), Warner Bros., 2007.

Emma's War, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2007.

Film Executive Producer:

Someone to Watch over Me, Columbia, 1987.

Monkey Trouble (also known as Pet), 1994.

White Squall, Buena Vista, 1996.

Gladiator, 2000.

Hostage (also known as The Hire: Hostage), BMW, 2002.

Beat the Devil (also known as The Hire: Beat the Devil), BMW, 2002.

Ticker (also known as The Hire: Ticker), BMW, 2002.

Tristan + Isolde (also known as Tristan & Isolde), Twentieth Century-Fox, 2006.

Film Coproducer:

Blade Runner, Warner Bros., 1982, modified and re-released as Blade Runner: The Director's Cut, 1992.

Film Cinematographer:

Boy and Bicycle (also known as Boy on a Bicycle), 1965.

Film Appearances:

The Alien Legacy (documentary; also known as The Alien Legacy: The Sixth Passenger), 1999.

Murder by Numbers, Independent, 2004.

The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing, Warner Home Video, 2004.

Television Production Designer; Series:

R3, 1964.

Out of the Unknown, 1965.

Television Executive Producer; Series:

The Hunger, Showtime, 1997.

Numb3rs, CBS, 2004-2007.

Also worked on The Informer, Rediffusion, 1966-67.

Television Executive Producer; Episodic:

Bold as Brass, 1964.

AFP: American Fighter Pilots, CBS, 2002.

Television Production Designer; Movies:

Reluctant Bandit, 1965.

Television Executive Producer; Movies:

RKO 281, HBO, 1999.

The Last Debate, Showtime, 2000.

The Lonely War, HBO, 2002.

The Gathering Storm, HBO, 2002.

Television Executive Producer; Miniseries:

The Company, TNT, 2007.

Television Director; Episodic:

"The Hard Word," Thirty-Minute Theatre, BBC, 1966.

Z Cars, BBC, 1966.

Adam Adamant Lives!, 1966.

"Robert," Half Hour Story, 1967.

The Informer, 1967.

"If He Hollers, Let Him Go," The Troubleshooters (also known as Mogul), BBC, 1969.

Numb3rs (also known as Num3ers), CBS, 2004.

Television Executive Producer; Pilots:

Orpheus, CBS, 2006.

Law Dogs, CBS, 2007.

Television Appearances; Specials:

The History of the SF Film, 1982.

The Horror Hall of Fame, 1990.

Reflections on Citizen Kane, 1991.

Columbus: The World's First Astronaut, 1992.

The Making of "Alien 3," 1992.

The Hunger: An MTV Sneak Preview, MTV, 1997.

Star Wars: The Magic and the Mystery, Fox, 1997.

Hollywood Halloween, 1997.

Musik im spiegel der gefuhle, 1998.

20th Century Fox: The Blockbuster Years, American Movie Classics, 2000.

On the Edge of "Blade Runner," 2000.

Gladiator Games: The Roman Bloodsport, 2000.

Dino De Laurentiis: The Last Movie Mogul, BBC, 2001.

AFI's 100 Years, 100 Thrills: America's Most Heart-Pounding Movies, CBS, 2001.

Alien Evolution, Channel 4, 2001.

The "Alien" Saga, 2002.

Murder By Numbers, Independent Film Channel, 2002.

Jeff Bridges: Building Bridges, Arts and Entertainment, 2002.

AFI's 100 Years100 Heroes & Villains, CBS, 2003.

Shock & Awe: The Return of "Alien," 2003.

The Making of "Alien vs. Predator," Fox, 2004.

The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing, Starz!, 2004.

Kingdom of Hope: The Making of "Kingdom of Heaven," 2005.

The 100 Greatest War Films, Channel 4, 2005.

Watch the Skies!: Science Fiction, the 1950s and Us, TCM, 2005.

50 Films to See Before You Die, Granada, 2006.

Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:

The 64th Annual Academy Awards, 1992.

The 73rd Annual Academy Awards, 2001.

The 74th Annual Academy Awards, 2002.

AFI Awards 2001, CBS, 2002.

The 54th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, NBC, 2002.

3rd Annual DVD Exclusive, FX Channel, 2003.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

"Eye of the Storm: Profile of Ridley Scott," Omnibus, 1993.

"The Films of Ridley Scott," The Directors, 1998.

"Gladiator," HBO First Look, HBO, 2000.

"Science Fiction," Film Genre, 2002.

"Epic," Film Genre, 2002.

The Film Programme, BBC, 2002.

Channel 4 News, Channel 4, 2002.

+ de cinema, 2002.

Breakfast, BBC, 2003.

Tinseltown TV, International Channel, 2003.

Filmland, 2004.

The Hollywood Greats (also known as Hollywood Greats), BBC1, 2004.

"Kingdom of Heaven," HBO First Look, HBO, 2005.

The Big Story, Fox, 2005.

"Kingdom of Heaven," History vs. Hollywood, History Channel, 2005.

Hannity & Colmes, Fox, 2005.

The Culture Show, BBC, 2005.

The Charlie Rose Show, PBS, 2005.

Cinema mil, 2006.



Breaking the Silence: The Making of "Hannibal," MGM, 2001.

Creating a Myththe Memories of "Legend," Universal Studios Home Video, 2002.

Duelling Directors: Ridley Scott & Keven Reynolds, Paramount Home Video, 2002.

DVD Discoveries (also known as DVD Discoveries: Special Edition), DVD Angle, 2003.

Thelma & Louise: The Last Journey, MGM, 2003.

Cinema16: British Short Films, Momac, 2003.

The Essence of Combat: Making "Black Hawk Down," Columbia TriStar, 2003.

The Beast Within: The Making of "Alien," Twentieth Century-Fox, 2003.

Tricks of the Trade: Making "Matchstick Men," Warner Home Video, 2004.

The Force Is with Them: The Legacy of "Star Wars," Twentieth Century-Fox, 2004.

Kingdom of Heaven: Interactive Production Grid, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2005.

Strength and Honor: Creating the World of "Gladiator," DreamWorks, 2005.

Ben-Hur: The Epic That Changed Cinema, Warner Bros., 2005.

Unholy War: Mounting the Siege, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2006.

The Path to Redemption, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2006.

Colors of the Crusade, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2006.

Paradise Found: Creating the Director's Cut, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2006.

Creative Accuracy: The Scholars Speak, 2006.

Black Rain: Post-Production, Paramount, 2006.

Black Rain: Making the Film-Part 2, Paramount, 2006.

Black Rain: The Script, the Cast, Paramount, 2006.

Black Rain: Making the Film-Part 1, Paramount, 2006.



Boy and Bicycle (also known as Boy on a Bicycle), 1965.



Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Volumes 7-26, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1992.

International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 2: Directors, St. James Press, 1996.

Schwartz, Richard Alan, The Films of Ridley Scott, 2001.


Interview, February, 2001, pp. 64.

Madison, May, 1999, pp. 74-77.

Starlog, November, 1992.

Scott, Ridley

views updated May 29 2018

SCOTT, Ridley

Nationality: English. Born: South Shields, County Durham, 1939. Education: Studied at West Hartlepool College of Art and at the Royal College of Art, London. Family: Married, three children. Career: Set designer, then director for BBC TV, including episodes of Z-Cars and The Informer, 1966–67; set up production company Ridley Scott Associates, directed close to 3,000 commercials, from 1967; directed first feature, The Duellists, 1977. Awards: Special Jury Prize, Cannes Festival, for The Duellists, 1977; Venice Film Festival Award for commercial work.

Films as Director:


The Duellists




Blade Runner




Someone to Watch over Me (+ exec-pr)


Black Rain


Thelma and Louise (+ co-pr)


1492: The Conquest of Paradise (+ pr)


White Squall (+ exec pr)


G.I. Jane (+ pr)





Other Films:


The Browning Version (co-pr); Monkey Business (exec pr)


The Hunger (series for TV) (exec pr)


Clay Pigeons (pr)


RKO 281 (for TV) (pr)


By SCOTT: articles—

"Ridley Scott cinéaste du décor," an interview with O. Assayas and S. LePéron, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), September 1982.

"Designer Genes," an interview with Harlan Kennedy, in Films (London), September 1982.

Interview with Hubert Niogret, in Positif (Paris), September 1985.

Interview with Sheila Johnston, in Films and Filming (London), November 1985.

Interview with Raphael Bassan and Raymond Lefevre, in Revue duCinéma (Paris), February 1986.

Interview with M. Buckley, in Films in Review (New York), January 1987.

"Thelma and Louise Hit the Road for Ridley Scott," an interview with M. McDonagh, in Film Journal (New York), June 1991.

"Ridley Scott's Road Work," an interview with A. Taubin, in Sightand Sound (London), July 1991.

"1492: Conquest of Paradise," an interview with A. M. Bahiana, in Cinema Papers (Melbourne), October 1992.

"Myth Revisited," an interview with M. Moss, in Boxoffice (Chicago), October 1992.

"Stormy Weather," an interview with David E. Williams, in American Cinematographer (Hollywood), February 1996.

Interview with A. Jones, in Cinema Papers (Fitzroy), July 1997.

On SCOTT: books—

Kernan, Judith B., ed., Retrofitting "Blade Runner": Issues in RidleyScott's "Blade Runner" and Philip K. Dick's "Do AndroidsDream of Electric Sheep?," Bowling Green, Ohio, 1991.

Sammon, Paul M., Ridley Scott: The Making of His Movies (CloseUp), New York, 1999.

On SCOTT: articles—

"Blade Runner Issue" of Cinefex (Riverside, California), July 1982.

"Blade Runner Issues" of Starburst (London), September/November 1982.

Kellner, Douglas, Flo Leibowitz, and Michael Ryan, "Blade Runner: A Diagnostic Critique," in Jump Cut (Chicago), no. 29, 1983.

Caron, A., "Les archétypes chez Ridley Scott," in Jeune Cinéma (Paris), March 1983.

Durgnat, Raymond, "Art for Film's Sake," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), May 1983.

Milmo, Sean, "Ridley Scott Makes the Details Count," in Advertising Age (Chicago), 21 June 1984.

Doll, Susan, and Greg Faller, "Blade Runner and Genre: Film Noir and Science Fiction," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), no. 2, 1986.

Rosen, Barbara, "How the Man Who Made Alien Invaded Madison Avenue," in Business Week (New York), 24 March 1986.

Davis, Brian, "Ridley Scott: He Revolutionized TV Ads," in Adweek (Chicago), 2 October 1989.

Zimmer, J., "Ridley Scott," in Revue du Cinéma (Paris), September 1990.

"The Many Faces of Thelma and Louise" (8 short articles), in FilmQuarterly (Berkeley), Winter 1991/92.

Wilmington, Mike, "The Rain People," in Film Comment (New York), January/February 1992.

Wollen, Peter, "Cinema's Conquistadors," in Sight and Sound (London), November 1992.

Strick, Philip, "Blade Runner: Telling the Difference," in Sight andSound (London), December 1992.

Torry, Robert, "Awaking to the Other: Feminism and the Ego-Ideal in Alien," in Women's Studies (Champaign, Illinois), vol. 23, no. 4, 1994.

Elrick, Ted, "Scott Brothers' Work Showcased for UK/LA," in DGAMagazine (Los Angeles), December-January 1994–1995.

Filmography, in Premiere (Boulder), February 1996.

Dauphin, G., "Heroine Addiction," in Village Voice (New York), 26 August 1997.

Lev, Peter, "Whose Future? Star Wars, Alien, and Blade Runner," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury), January 1998.

* * *

Ridley Scott has enjoyed more critical acclaim and financial success as a director of television commercials than he has as a feature filmmaker. Ironically, the very element that has made him an award-winning director of commercials—his emphasis on visual design to convey the message—has often been at the core of the criticism aimed at his films.

Though Scott began his career directing popular TV programs for the BBC, he found that his meticulous attention to detail in terms of set design and props was more suited to making commercials. Scott honed his craft and style on hundreds of ad spots for British television during the 1970s, as did future film directors Alan Parker, Hugh Hudson, Adrian Lyne, and Tony Scott (Ridley's brother). In 1979, Scott became a fixture in the American television marketplace with a captivating commercial for Chanel No. 5 titled "Share the Fantasy." Still innovative in this arena, Scott continues to spark controversy with his "pocket versions of feature films"—his term for commercials.

Scott approaches his feature films with the same emphasis on mise-en-scène that distinguishes his commercials, prompting some critics to refer to him as a visual stylist. Scott assumes control over the visual elements of his films as much as possible, rather than turn the set design completely over to the art director or the photography over to the cinematographer. Because his first feature, The Duellists, was shot in France, Scott was able to serve as his own cinematographer for that film—a luxury not allowed on many subsequent films due to union rules.

Hallmarks of Scott's style include a detailed, almost crowded set design that is as prominent in the frame as the actors, a fascination with the tonalities of light, a penchant for foggy atmospheres backlit for maximum effect, and a reliance on long lenses, which tend to flatten the perspective. While these techniques are visually stunning in themselves, they are often tied directly to plot and character in Scott's films.

Of all Scott's films, Blade Runner and Legend make the fullest use of set design to enhance the theme. In Blade Runner, the polluted, dank metropolis teems with hordes of lower-class merchants and pedestrians, who inhabit the streets at all hours. Except for huge, garish neon billboards, fog and darkness pervade the city, suggesting that urban centers in the future will have no daylight hours. This pessimistic view is in sharp contrast to the sterile, brightly lit sets found in conventional science-fiction films. Inherent in the set design is a critique of our society, which has allowed its environment to be destroyed. The overwrought set design also complements the feverish attempts by a group of androids to find the secret to longer life. Blade Runner influenced the genre with its dystopian depiction of the future, though the cluttered set design and low-key lighting were used earlier by Scott in the science-fiction thriller Alien. Legend, a fairy tale complete with elves, goblins, and unicorns, employs a simple theme of good and evil that is reinforced through images of light and darkness. The magical unicorns, for example, have coats of the purest white; an innocent, virginal character is costumed in flowing, white gowns; sunbeams pour over glades of white flowers; and light shimmers across silver streams as the unicorns gallop through the forest. In contrast, a character called Darkness (actually the Devil) looks magnificently evil in an array of blood reds and wine colors; the sinister Darkness resides in the dark, dismal bowels of the Earth, where no light is allowed to enter; and a corrupted world is symbolized by a charred forest devoid of flowers and leaves and black clouds that cover the sky. The forest set was constructed entirely inside the studio and is reminiscent of those huge indoor sets created for Fritz Lang's Siegfried. In Black Rain, Scott once again reinforced the film's theme through its mise-en-scène, though here he made extensive use of actual locations instead of relying so much on studio sets. Black Rain follows the story of two New York detectives tracking a killer through the underworld of Osaka, Japan. The two characters are frequently depicted against the backdrop of Osaka's ornate neon signs and ultramodern architecture. Shot through a telephoto lens and lit from behind, the characters seem crushed against the huge set design, which serves as a metaphor for their struggle to penetrate the culture in order to track their man.

Though Scott has forged a style that is recognizably his own, his approach to filmmaking has a precedent in German Expressionist filmmaking. The Expressionists were among the first to use the elements of mise-en-scène (set design, lighting, props, costuming) to suggest traits of character or enhance meaning. Similarly, Scott's techniques are stunning yet highly artificial, a trait often criticized by American reviewers, who too often value plot and character over visual style, and realism over symbolism.

Scott's more recent films, especially Thelma and Louise, suggest that his strongest quality all along has been an ability to create film myths that resonate in viewers' minds for years afterwards. The Duellists continues to be a haunting film despite the actors' inadequate performances, not just because of the splendidly romantic cinematography but because of the starkness of the tale itself (from Joseph Conrad); and Alien, with its own duel between a no-nonsense heroine and a hidden evil, continues to be an object of critical study, feminist and otherwise. Blade Runner, perhaps most of all of Scott's films, has seized the imagination of both movie fans and scholarly theoreticians: a 1991 volume of critical studies of the film contains a 44-page annotated bibliography, and this is before the theatrical release of the "Director's Cut," which had aficionados debating the merits of its eliminating Deckard's noiresque voiceovers and the hopeful green hills at the end, and of adding a brief shot of a unicorn. One might attribute the relative failures of Someone to Watch over Me and Black Rain, despite their visual swank, to their inability to transcend tired generic conventions, while the more recent 1492: The Conquest of Paradise seems most successful in its mythic moments—notably Columbus's first glimpse of the New World as mists sweep aside—rather than in its efforts to document the Spanish extermination of native peoples while partially exonerating Columbus himself.

Thelma and Louise, with its near-hallucinatory, flamboyantly archetypal American Western settings (bearing little relation to such specificities as "Arkansas"), debuted with much debate about how feminist it actually was in its characterizations of two "dangerous women" and in its delineations of the patriarchal causes of their doomed flight. But whatever conclusions might be drawn about the film's polemics, those unforgettable shots of Thelma and Louise whooping in delight as they light out for the territory in their T-bird convertible—red hair flying, sunglasses glinting—seem destined to enter American mythology (granted that it is too soon to rank the pair alongside Huck and Jim on the raft). Closer to tall tale than high tragedy, Thelma and Louise is memorable due not only to the script and the seemingly inevitable casting of the leads, but to Scott's realization of landscapes, from the rainy night highways (a background wash of massive dark trucks and blinding lights) to Monument Valley and other vast spaces populated by little more than swarms of police vehicles. It may well be a defining film of the early 1990s, as Blade Runner has become for the early 1980s.

—Susan Doll, updated by Joseph Milicia

Scott, Ridley

views updated May 09 2018

Scott, Ridley (1937– ) English film director. Alien (1979) and Blade Runner (1982) were seminal science-fiction offerings. Thelma and Louise (1991) was another genre-breaking box-office success. Scott won an Academy Award for best picture for Gladiator (2000).