The minute you start making lists, you start making enemies. Any list is subjective, especially when you’re dealing with something as emotive as filmmaking.
Now I'm not getting into an argument about who I've put on this list or who I've left off so you lot at the back can settle down.
When it comes to action, these directors know what they're doing so hold onto your seats because when they're at the helm, you're in for a bumpy ride.
1. Ridley Scott
AKA Sir Ridley Scott
Ranked #28 on Premiere's 2005 Power 50 List, Scott is a force to be reckoned with both on and off the screen. In fact, together with his brother, Tony Scott, he actually owns Shepperton Studios in the UK. He also owns the visual effects company, Mill Film, based in London where they did the majority of the effects work on Gladiator.
And it's because of Gladiator that we're starting this list with him (not because he's number one or anything, remember). The release of the DVD has reminded us that it is possible to put the words "action" and "epic" together. Unlike the dire Alexandra, Gladiator is the perfect mix of plot, character and heart-popping action. He's also generally thought of as the father of "the director's cut."
Having initially studied at the West Hartlepool College of Art, Scott quickly moved on to a photography course at London's Royal College of Art in the 1960s. There, he was to contribute to the college magazine, ARK and help to establish its film department. For his final show, he made a black and white short film, The Boy on the Bicycle, starring his brother, Tony. The film's main visual elements would become features of Scott's later work. After graduation, he secured a traineeship as a set designer with the BBC. He left to set up an advertisng company with his brother and fellow directors - Alan Parker (The Commitments) and Hugh Hudson (Chariots of Fire).
After a career directing TV commercials, Scott turned his hand to making films (to date, he has made over 2,000 commercials.) His first film off the plate was The Duelists, a saga set during the grand, sweeping Napoleonic age; an officer in the French army insults another officer and sets off a life-long enmity. The two officers, D'Hubert and Feraud, cross swords time and time again in an attempt to achieve justice and preserve their honour.The Duellists was based on a tale by Joseph Conrad (who inspired Apocalypse Now and the ship names for Alien - Nostromo and Narcissus).
The Duelists was produced in Europe and made limited impact in the US. He planned next to adapt an opera but after seeing Star Wars, Scott became convinced of the potential of largescale effects-driven films and accepted the directing job of Alien, a "haunted house in space" that became an international hit. After a year working on the film adaptation of Dune, Scott signed to direct Blade Runner even though he was reluctant to follow up with another science-fiction film. The film was a flop on initial release but achieved cult film status on video.
His striking visual style, incorporating a detailed approach to production design and innovative, atmospheric lighting, has been tremendously influential on an entire subsequent generation of filmmakers - many of whom have simply imitated him outright.
In 1995, Scott, together with his brother, formed the film and television production company, Scott Free Productions (nice pun fellas) in Los Angeles. All of his subsequent feature films, starting with White Squall, have been produced under the Scott Free banner.
The huge success of Gladiator has been credited with the revival of the nearly defunct genre of the "sword and sandal" historical epic. In 2004, Scott attempted to follow it up with the less-than-successful Kingdom of Heaven, a movie about the Crusades (featuring Orlando Bloom at his most wooden) that consciously sought to connect history to current events. While on location in Morocco during the filming, Scott reportedly receiving death threats from Islamic extremists. It was reported that the Moroccan government sent hundreds of soldiers to protect the set and crew. However, the Moroccan cavalry were actually on hand as extras in the epic battle-scenes.
Although some of his films have been highly praised, others have been less successful with audiences and critics. G.I. Jane and Hannibal are the two of his flicks most often attacked by critics, while 1492:Conquest of Paradise was a major commercial failure. Legend (featuring a unicorn and Tom Cruise at his prettiest) was, like Blade Runner three years before, an initial box-office disaster but it, too, has since found cult status thanks to Jerry Goldsmith's (Scott's favourite composer) critically acclaimed (but rarely heard) score, and a 2002 revised "director's cut" that is closer to Scott's original vision.
Scott has been nominated for three Academy Awards. He was knighted in the 2003 New Year Honours.
Finest action moment:
The rain-drenched roof top chase in Blade Runner.
The Duellists (1977)
Whilst working as a set designer at the BBC, Scott was assigned to design the Daleks for Dr Who.
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