When I was younger, I remember my mother and father idolizing the films of the eighties that have long since been considered “classics”. From Airplane to Raiders of the Lost Ark to E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, there is something nostalgic concerning many aspects of the movies of the 1980’s. It was a decade when many of the great directors and auteurs of our time secured their place in filmmaking history. George Lucas had gained huge success with his Star Wars franchise, Steven Spielberg created several masterpieces, and James Cameron began “experimenting” with science fiction. In 1986, a film titled Top Gun captured the hearts of millions and won the world over. This upbeat action/drama was pioneering in a way that took a story of great friends, family, patriotism, grief, inspiration, and determination and found a means to connect with nearly every aspect of life’s normalcy. Top Gun is undoubtedly one of the great “classic” movies of both my generation, as well as my parents’. Remembering the man behind films of this caliber, despite all of its “80’s cheesiness”, is not only important, but necessary.
Tony Scott was not only a great director and producer, but a man that formed lasting relationships with some of the most famous names in Hollywood. Tom Cruise starred in both Top Gun and Days of Thunder. Denzel Washington starred in several of Scott’s films. Gene Hackman, Christopher Walken, Mickey Rourke, Brad Pitt, and Hans Zimmer also worked with Scott in many films. This proves that Scott was a master of his art and a brilliant auteur. I do not wish to deconstruct the plot or meanings of such films, but to reiterate the fact that Scott was most assuredly a phenomenal director to work alongside.
The New York Times wrote that Scott was “one of the most influential film directors of the past 25 years, if also one of the most consistently and egregiously under loved by critics.” In any sense, this could be true. One of the many films which I consider to be on my very long list of favorites is Man On Fire. Although this film was not recognized by the Academy as holding much cinematic weight, I believe it was very much under loved. Again, I do not wish to analytically examine this piece. For those who doubt this film as holding its weight, I encourage to sit and view it with a critical eye. Be certain to pay attention to the authenticity of character relationships and the detail to the storyline. This visual aesthetics of an auteur like Tony do not need much mentioning as they undoubtedly shine through.
Perhaps the reason he was under loved by critics, more specifically since the turn of the century, is because his brother Ridley Scott became so well known since Alien and Blade Runner. Since Ridley Scott was so generously rewarded with Gladiator in 2000, Tony’s movie career struggled to compete. If we look back at Tony Scott’s films before Gladiator’s fame in 2000, it is safe to say that Tony Scott was on par with the quality, imagination, and creativity of nearly every director in Hollywood. His films included Crimson Tide, True Romance, The Last Boy Scout, Enemy of the State, to name a few. Although his films Déjà Vu, The Taking of Pelham 123, and Unstoppable, as well as Domino and The Fan, did not merit much conversation among critics or film institutions, they are all unique, interesting, and fantastically directed. Tony Scott’s cinematography, visual effects, and directing style are unwaveringly complex and distinctive. His use of subtitles, distinct colors, shading, camera movement and angles, and subtle narration provide viewers with an appealing and breathtaking film experience. Tony Scott was said to have possessed “the extraordinary ability to create energy on screen, both in action and in the creation of character.”
Despite his horrible and untimely death, I will always remember Tony Scott as creating some of the great films of the 1980’s and 90’s, perhaps of the last fifty years, and having the ability to produce visually intense cinematic experiences. His films left his audience with a sense of sincerity, a sense of amazement, a strong sense of relatable character development, and most of all, a natural realness. His films will remain an asset to cinematic history. May he rest in peace.
Author I Michael Fryer I Editor; Correspondent I He’s an aficionado of films; cinema and art. A film enthusiast, whose writing on film is always in depth and philosophical. He is a graduate of California State University with a B.A. in history with a concentration on modern European history.