Friday, 14 May 2010

Ridley Scott

Sometimes I'm disappointed in Ridley Scott. There was a time when a new film from him was something that would change the course of cinema, the days of Alien (1979), Blade Runner (1982) and Thelma & Louise (1991). There hasn't been as much of that of late, although Gladiator (2000) is close to being that kind of event.

But on the other hand, how much can you really expect, or demand, from one filmmaker? Perhaps the fact that Scott is one of the most gifted imagemaker film history has ever seen, that he might be a genius, should be enough. I've seen almost everything Scott has done, from The Duellists (1977) and onwards, and I've liked very much almost everything. It's just that the scripts he bases his films on too often doesn't really have the same quality as the visual and narrative aspects of the films.

Someone such as myself who is more interested in the visuals than the words and the text shouldn't perhaps mind so much, but if push comes to shove, I believe I care more about the script than I would like to admit.

In any event, Scott seems to be someone with something on his mind. His politics are probably liberal. His best films are in line with Scott's philosophy that as a filmmaker he must keep "reminding the audience that there's a dark side to life. That attracts me. Because it's the truth." So his films, most of them, share a common theme, they're stories about dedicated men and women who find themselves in the middle of a battle against forces they don't understand. Battles which often take epic and even existential proportions, where time and space in itself seems to be part of the enemy. He has made smaller, more quiet films, as well, such as Matchstick Men (2003) and Someone to Watch Over Me (1987), two films I'm very found of, and even here you can see how he has worked with every single image, and how they, in their own ways, also are about battles against mysterious forces. A Good Year (2006) is also quiet, but fails on most accounts though.

Something has changed lately, his films has lost passion. The likes of American Gangster (2007) and his latest, Robin Hood (2010), have an extraordinary verve and drive, and tell their stories with a narrative confidence that put most films to shame, but to me they lack the beating heart of his best films, even though they're sometimes angry and political.

And I think that is what's disappointing.

Here's an interview from the Guardian the other day.

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Spoiler alert regarding the end of Robin Hood. One big disappointment with Robin Hood was the fact that in the end, Marion doesn't kill Godfrey with her sword, but has to be rescued by Robin. Why on earth did they go down that road? It would have been cooler, more feminist and more in keeping with Scott's previous female heroes had she killed him herself. No, bad move that. Otherwise it's a classic Scott film. Robin's white horse reminds me of a unicorn.

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