Can you personally imagine a world without Alien? Or Blade Runner, Gladiator, Thelma and Louise… the list of unimaginable absences continues. I know some of you will be able to imagine that world pretty easily. In fact I’m sure some of you probably live in that world, have never heard the soft hum of a hovering car, gliding above the skyline of Los Angeles in the distant future (?!) of 2019. You’ve never had the heart pounding fear as Sigourney Weaver is arbitrarily ambushed by a cat aboard (what is possibly the greatest intergalactic industrial spaceship of all cinema-time) the Nostromo. You have lived without these things, and that’s fine. Or you have seen them, and you didn’t particularly care. That is also fine. For the latter of you, I hear Michael Bay has green-lit an extended Transformers Cinematic Universe, so you should go check that out. For the rest of you, even if his films haven’t spoken to you personally, it’s certainly hard to say to deny that Ridley Scott has had a lasting effect on the world of cinema.

And on the 18th of February Sir Ridley Scott’s achievements received recognition (for a second time, if you count all that “knighthood” malarkey) when he received a fellowship to the British academy of Film and Television Arts. Which is great, really. He even got a few gracious nods in the nights winners’ victory speeches. Perhaps most notably, the team behind Blade Runner 2049’s special effects thanked him for his original movie, and the world it had created for them to be part of. Which was touching. Except… well. I found it touching, right up until I remembered Scott’s comment on the sequel (a link to that article at the bottom of the page) where he rather candidly said “It’s way too f***ing long!” and followed with the least humble of statements “and most of that script is mine!”

At times like these I can find it hard to defend Scott’s actions. He sort of slips from “Sir Ridley Scott – weaver of cinematic masterpieces” into “Sir Ridley Scott – petulant hypocrite and egomaniac”. Because, let’s face facts here – Scott’s recent output has been lacklustre at best. Now I liked Alien: Covenant, and I adored Prometheus (it’s in my top ten for some very complex reasons), but when you weigh those two up against the ultra-long snooze-fest that is Robin Hood and the almost sinful travesty that was Exodus: Gods and Kings – you start to see the problem. I always used to say that at least he hasn’t gone “George Lucas-Crazy” and started messing around with his original films – but then I remember Blade Runner and it’s infinite cuts. Lord knows how many versions of one film I can sit through (answer – it’s a lot). And then when I’m on the verge of justifying this to myself, Charlie also steps in to say “Ridley Scott is one of those rare filmmakers. He peaked very early in his life and followed through with some consistency. And then he just slowly and surely went insane. And then he messed with his classics. Because F**K ALIEN: COVENANT!” – and it’s pretty hard to argue with that.

I started this blog post with the intention of throwing some well-deserved praise at a filmmaker I’ve always admired. One from my own country who made a huge impact on Hollywood. One who is actually more Northern than me, which is a perhaps an even bigger deal for me than the former point. That through line just sort of degraded as I delved into it. I don’t really have a just conclusion here on whether Scott is as relevant today as he was in the eighties and nineties. I don’t even have a thorough argument for why I think Covenant was okay and Charlie doesn’t. I seem to be ending this post doing something I seem to be doing a lot these turbulent days – thinking how much easier it was when I was younger.

I could just pop on the VCR, and that flying car could take me down into a fantastic, neon escape. And I didn’t have to think about how they managed the effects, if the people behind them were paid fairly, if the director is a dick, or any other number of questions my adult mind seems to bog me down with. I could just think”Wow.” And most importantly I would never have to second guess that thought.

 

Thanks for reading.

A

 

If you haven’t seen Blade Runner: 2049, or even the original, you should definitely treat yo’self to a copy from here! Might as well see what all the fuss is about, and help out the comic while you’re at it!

 

 

Some Further Reading:

 

Scott’s thoughts on Blade Runner 2049:
https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/12/ridley-scott-blade-runner-2049-opinion

 

An interesting article on Scott and his relevance to social mobility in the UK:

https://inews.co.uk/culture/film/sir-ridley-scott-social-mobility-bafta/