20 Films from a Singular Cinematic Master


Ridley Scott & Sigourney Weaver. Photo courtesy of 20TH CENTURY FOX / THE KOBAL COLLECTION / PENN, ROBERT.

Yes, there is Alien and there is Blade Runner—not just two of the most visionary works of science-fiction ever filmed, but movies that changed the very language of contemporary Hollywood moviemaking. But in his remarkable, 35-year career, Ridley Scott has seemed just as intrigued by the distant past as the distant future, and by those eternal conflicts between men and nations that echo from the ancient myths into the present day.

He was born (in South Shields, England in 1937) into a military family—his father, Colonel Francis Percy Scott, served in the Royal Engineers, while an older brother joined the Merchant Navy—which may account for his own career-spanning interest in men and machines of war. But Scott was also seduced at an early age by the cinema, especially those biggest of big-screen epics, Lawrence of Arabia and The Seven Samurai—movies whose narrative and visual grandeur he has strived to recapture in his own work, along with their iconic warrior heroes.

He studied photography at the Royal College of Art in London, where he helped to establish a film department and made his first short subject, Boy and Bicycle, starring his younger brother (and future director) Tony. Together, the brothers then launched Ridley Scott Associates, a prolific commercial production company that counted future Oscar nominees Alan Parker (Midnight Express) and Hugh Hudson (Chariots of Fire) among its stable of directors. Then, in 1977, he made his feature directing debut with The Duellists, followed in close succession by Alien and Blade Runner—one of the more astonishing triple plays in movie history.

In the decades since, Scott’s work has continued to set a high bar for large-scale studio filmmaking, earning more than $1 billion in domestic box-office receipts, a Best Picture Oscar for Gladiator and three Best Director Oscar nominations (for Thelma & Louise, Gladiator and Black Hawk Down). In addition, he has maintained a successful television career, serving as executive producer on the long-running CBS series Numb3rs and The Good Wife. In 2003, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his contributions to the British film industry.

On the eve of this summer’s hugely anticipated Prometheus, we are proud to present the first complete North American retrospective of Scott’s towering body of work.

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