Sir Ridley Scott was born in South Shields, County Durham, North East England and studied at the Royal College of Art in London where he actually helped establish the college’s film department. After graduating in 1963, he became a set designer trainee for BBC Television, which eventually led to directing TV shows.
In 1968, Scott and his brother Tony founded the Ridley Scott Associates (RSA) film company where they made commercials in the 1970s. He successfully gave Chanel No. 5 an image boost with his fantastic and surreal ads. He was, of course, also the director of the famous 1984 Apple Macintosh commercial that premiered during Super Bowl XVIII.
His first commercial success was Alien in 1979, a sci-fi horror that felt new, original and, most importantly, scary. Immediately following Alien in 1982 was another sci-fi movie that became a film classic, Blade Runner, based on the Philip K. Dick classic Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and depicting a visually stunning dystopian Los Angeles. Unlike Alien, however, this movie had mixed reviews and was a commercial disappointment, but it has become well-regarded in the years since its release.
Popular films directed by Scott following Blade Runner include Legend (1985), Thelma & Louise (1991), G.I. Jane (1997), Gladiator (2000), Hannibal (2001), Black Hawk Down (2001) and American Gangster (2007). Many good films, but I remember thinking after seeing the Russel Crowe version of Robin Hood back in 2010 that his best film was still Alien.
Lately though, he has revisited the sci-fi genre to great success, starting with his first movie set in the Alien universe since the original Alien, Prometheus, which came out in 2012. Its reviews and box office numbers reflected my own opinion on the film perfectly: not a rousing success but not at all bad. Scott’s greatest post-Alien success was the movie The Martian, which not only made more money than any of his other films but was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, won the Golden Globe, and was the best movie he ever directed in this blogger’s opinion.
I was never a huge fan of Scott’s. His movies tend to take themselves too seriously and even his greatest works have a feeling of averageness about them, but movies like The Martian, which I genuinely loved the most of all his films, have restored my faith in his talents and are the ultimate reason why I can’t wait to see what he’ll do next, especially if it’s in the genre of science fiction.