mon 24/06/2024

Tony Scott 1944-2012 | reviews, news & interviews

Tony Scott 1944-2012

Tony Scott 1944-2012

Remembering the British director whose films thrilled millions but never won an Oscar

Tony Scott: missed by everyone who loves great cinema

Anthony David “Tony” Scott was "the other Scott brother" whose filmmaking was cinematic, determined and all-encompassing. After directing thousands of television commercials, Scott’s breakthrough film, The Hunger, starring Catherine Deneuve, Susan Sarandon and David Bowie, became a classic, setting the stage for beautiful, elegiac and shocking tales of vampirism, love, and the implications of immortality. A trained fine artist, Scott's eye always found the perfect shot.

Many memorable movies were to follow: Top Gun with Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer was a film that marked a generation, and a sequel was in the works at the time of Scott's death. Then came the gutsy NASCAR drama Days of Thunder (1990) starring Cruise and Nicole Kidman; a surprisingly touching The Last Boy Scout (1991) with Bruce Willis; and the solidly exciting Crimson Tide (1995) with Denzel Washington – an actor who was to star in five of Scott’s films, including the recent Unstoppable (2010).

If someone as hugely talented and hardworking as Tony Scott didn’t have an Oscar, how much is it really worth?

Rather than making a longer list of Scott’s films and citing the box office and/or the critical successes, it's more fitting to talk about the feeling Scott’s films evoked – a sense of action, certainly, but also one of depth and of human understanding. Rarely did his camera miss the heart of his subject and rarely did the audience feel the characters portrayed in his films were not real. For all this ability to capture drama, Scott’s heroes never came out of a cardboard box. His films were experiential: he wasn’t trying to make a great work of art, he was trying to make a fantastic experience.

As his career grew, Scott became more experimental. He took more chances, both with his material and the way he shot it. While this may not have made him more popular in Hollywood – where, it could be said, he was often unjustly seen as a journeyman director – it made him a favourite with film lovers everywhere. Derided by some critics as being a music video style director, very few filmmakers could capture emotion and subtlety as he could. His less “popular” films such as Revenge (1990), with Kevin Costner, and Spy Game (2001) with Brad Pitt and Robert Redford, were all someone’s favourite film, talked about in intimate tones. To say his films were style over content was to be bedazzled by the hand of an artist. People felt the content - and so dear was the film to many people's hearts that a few had the soundtrack of the surprising, memorable True Romance (1993) - a favourite for its stellar Tony Scott visuals and snappy Tarantino script - played at their weddings.

Scott designed this films to thrill, to give the audience an experiential bang in the chops that would have them leaving the cinema all abuzz. In this he showed his true respect for the audience in the only way he knew how. He wanted every second of his movies to be doing their job, and he was capable of using every techno device to maximise their impact.

A visualist, a cinematographer by instinct, Scott's energy was always for the image that would tell the story. He was never trapped by conventional thinking. Scott’s Wikipedia overview sums up his career as “generally box office successes, although he was never nominated for an Academy Award and received little critical praise.” That Scott went virtually unrecognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences must make us all reconsider the meaning and value of the Oscar. If someone as hugely talented and hardworking as Tony Scott didn’t have one, how much is it really worth?

Writer, director, producer, editor, actor and wearer of the faded red baseball cap, Tony Scott is missed by everyone who loves great cinema. His works live on.

For all his ability to capture drama, Scott’s heroes never came out of a cardboard box

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Comments

Finally, a nice tribute to the talented director! I can't begin to say how irritated I've been with some of the dismissive things I've been reading. I've always thought Tony Scott was a good director! Last semester, True Romance came up in my class & I had forgotten he had directed it. We had actually been discussing Tarantino & I was saying TR was directed by someone else. I looked up the director and when I saw it was Tony Scott immediately said to myself - that's right - no wonder it's good! I said to my class - "He's Ridley Scott's brother & also a v good director." He was a class act & worked on many great projects alone & with RIdley. His death is a tragic loss.

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