Posts Tagged ‘Ridley Scott’

Roy Batty

Science fiction fans mark some odd birthdays: that of The Terminator‘s Skynet on August 4th 1997; or 2001: A Space Odyssey computer HAL 9000 on 12th January 1999.

Today, 8th January 2016, is the birthday – or incept date – of iconic Blade Runner replicant Roy Batty.

This seems an appropriate day to reboot my site after a long absence from blogging. I have a series of posts inspired by Blade Runner and I’ll be posting them soon.

Please check them out!

BFI Dual Format Edition

DirectorTony Scott (as Anthony Scott). Writer: Tony Scott. Producers: Stephen Bayly and Albert Finney (uncredited). StarringRosamund Greenwood (Woman), Roy Evans (Man), David Pugh (Young Boy). Cinematography: Chris Menges. 52 mins, 1971.

The suicide of film director Tony Scott makes the title of his early experimental film Loving Memory (1971) bitterly ironic. This splending BFI Dual Format release contains the title film and two other shorts, One of the Missing (1968) and Boy and Bicycle (1965).

Tony Scott was, of course, the younger brother of Ridley Scott, and though both were successful mainstream Hollywood directors Tony is generally regarded as the more commercial of the two: his first Hollywood movie was the stylish arthouse vampire film The Hunger (1983), a box-office failure, after which he returned to advertising, but a successful campaign for SAAB featuring a Saab 900 turbo racing a Saab 37 Viggen fighter jet lead to him being offered the director’s seat on the gung-ho action flick Top Gun (1986); this was followed by a string of commercially successful blockbusters including Beverly Hills Cop II (1987), Revenge (1990), Days of Thunder (1990), The Last Boy Scout (1991), True Romance (1993), Crimson Tide (the first of a series of  successful collaborations with Denzel Washington, 1995), The Fan (1996), Enemy of the State (1998), Spy Game (2001), Man on Fire (2004), the time travel movie Déjà Vu (2006), The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009), and Unstoppable (2010).

The accident

Loving Memory is about as far away from these star studied, blockbusting action movies as it is possible to imagine. Despite being British neither of the Scott brothers have set much of their work in Britain: Loving Memory is Tony Scott’s only purely ”British” film (although Spy Game features some London scenes); it is a macabre character study which has been justifiably compared to Harold Pinter.

David Pugh as the Young Boy

The film concerns an elderly couple played by Rosamund Greenwood and Roy Evans, who we later discover to be brother and sister, who accidentally run over and kill a young cyclist played by David Pugh on a lonely northern moor – but instead of reporting the incident to the police the woman decides to take the corpse home with them. There she dresses him in the clothes of a second brother, killed in the Second World War, shows him her photo-albums, and tries to engage him in conversation. Her brother, meanwhile, gathers wood to build a coffin.

Rosamund Greenwood as the Woman

Greenwood has the only speaking part in the movie and largely carries it; she gives a subtle, heart-rending performance as a sister clinging to her past. Memories of the War hang heavily over the house – quite literally in the form of an aircraft propeller suspended from the ceiling that the woman boobytraps in order to prevent her brother burying the corpse. Greenwood had appeared in Jacques Tourneur‘s classic horror film Night of the Demon (1957) and Wolf Rilla‘s Village of the Damned (1960), and would appear as a witch in Nicolas Roeg‘s The Witches (1990), an adaptation of the children’s book by Roald Dahl; her distinctive features are beautifully captures in Chris Menges photography and reproduced in detail in the crisp Blu-ray transfer.

Roy Evans as the Man

Roy Evans, the brother, was a character actor who had previously appeared in Doctor Who as Trantis in ”The Daleks’ Master Plan” (1965-66), and would later appear in ”The Green Death” (1973) as Bert, a Welsh miner, and as another miner in ”The Monster of Peladon”  (1974). Here too he wears a miner’s helmet.

David Pugh would be a regular in the ITV children’s show Roberts Robots (1974)

Cinematographer Chris Menges had previously shot Peter WatkinsThe War Game (1965), Ken Loach‘s Kes (1968) and Lindsay Anderson‘s If…. (1968); he would later photograph Bill Forsyth‘s Local Hero (1983), Roland Joffe‘s The Killing Fields (1984) and The Mission (1986), which won him an Academy Award each; Neil Jordan‘s Michael Collins (1996) earned him another Oscar nomination. As you would expect the landscapes look incredible on Blu-ray, and the cluttered rooms of the elderly couple’s house are rich in detail.

Loving Memory  was selected for the Cannes Film Festival’s Critics Week.

One of the Missing (1968)

Director: Anthony Scott. Writer: Anthony Scott. Photography: Anthony Scott. Starring: Stephen Edwards (James Clavering), Ridley Scott (Unionist Officer, uncredited), Dave Edwards (Voices). BFI Production Board, 26 mins, 1968

One of the Missing (1968) was Tony Scott’s first film, an experimental short based on a short story by Ambrose Bierce about an American Civil War soldier trapped beneath the rubble of a collapsed building.

The film is a tense, claustrophobic film with virtually no dialogue other than an opening narration, and contains no synchronously recorded sound – presumably for budgeting reasons. Scott appears to have been inspired by Robert Enrico‘s Au Coeur de la Vie (In the Midst of Life, 1963), which also drew on Ambrose Bierce’s work.

Although Tony Scott would not return to the historical genre himself the visual style anticipates that of Ridley Scott’s 1977 film The Duellists.

One of the Missing is presented in it’s original full-frame format and shows a little sign of wear but that’s not surprising given the age of the source material.

Boy and Bicycle (1965)

Starring: Anthony Scott (The Schoolboy). DirectorRidley Scott. Producer: Ridley Scott. WriterRidley Scott. BFI Experimental Film, 25 mins, 1965.

The third feature in this set stars Tony Scott (again credited as Anthony Scott) as the title character in the charming experimental short Boy and Bicycle (1965) written and directed by Ridley Scott. This tells the freewheeling adventures of a 16 year old cyclist in a Northern industrial seaside town.

As with One of the Missing there is no synchronous sound and the only speech is Tony Scott’s internal monologue. The script is funny, with Tony filling in the absence of dialogue with his own parodies of adult speech.

It’s not hard to see this short as the inspiration of Ridley Scott’s classic Hovis advert, “Bike Round” (1974).

The theme music was by John Barry and the incidental music by John Baker of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop; sound was by Brian Hodgson, also of the Radiophonic Workshop, and Murray Marshall.

Boy and Bicycle is also presented in its original full-frame format.

Read more
  • Bierce, Ambrose ”One of the missing”
  • Morrison, David (undated) Boy and Bicycle at BFI Screenonline
  • —– (undated) One of the Missing at BFI Screenonline
  • Newman, Kim (undated) ”Ridley Scott” at BFI Screenonline
  • —– () ”The Films of Tony and Ridley Scott” (published in the booklet accompanying the BFI Dual Format release)

‘I Just Want to Talk to Someone!’

After the success of Ridley Scott‘s Apple Macintosh advert, 1984, the director returned to sf that decade with a series of cyberpunk-themed adverts for Barclays Bank which drew explicitly on the style of  Blade Runner (1982).

Each advert is set in a noisy, overcrowded, dystopian near future world in which the protagonist traverses some kind of bureaucratic nightmare as they pursue adequate banking services. At the end of each advert the protagonist is magically transported to a 1980s Barclays bank were they are met by a human representative who, because of changes in fashion and a near total blandness, now appears more sinister than anything else in the advert.

”Query” features former Astronauts (1981) star Barry Rutter as Mr Paxton. His increasingly fraught attempts to get a personal loan eventually leads him to encounter a seemingly human bank manager who is actually plugged into a computer through a socket into the back of his head. The manager is played by Tony Aitken who appeared as a madman in the Blackadder II episode ”Money” (1986), and as the ”Merry Balladeer” in the closing titles for that season.

In ”Queue”, Gwyneth Strong, later to find fame as Rodney Trotter‘s wife, Cassandra, in Only Fools and Horses, plays Mrs Webb on the quest for an overdraft.

Unfortunately I have been unable to find any cast information on the third film, ”Stracey”: if you know more, please let me know.

The very impressive optical effects were created by the Peerless Camera Company Ltd, Covent Garden, who have also produced optical effects for all of Terry Gilliam‘s films, and also the cloud effects on James Cameron‘s Aliens (1986).

Query
Queue
Stracey

Space

Hat tip to Bob, Smudge64 and Brad and the gang at The Mausoleum Club for cast details.

Sources
On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like “1984.”

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”Today, we celebrate the first glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directives. We have created, for the first time in all history, a garden of pure ideology – where each worker may bloom, secure from the pests purveying contradictory truths. Our Unification of Thoughts is more powerful a weapon than any fleet or army on earth. We are one people, with one will, one resolve, one cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death, and we will bury them with their own confusion. We shall prevail!”

Prometheus (2012) has been hailed as Ridley Scott‘s first return to science fiction since the classics Alien (1979) and Blade Runner (1982) – but this isn’t quite true. Scott also made this 60 second Apple Macintosh advert, 1984, in 1983. The advert was a coproduction between Apple Computers and Chiat\Day, and was written by copywriter Steve Hayden, creative director Lee Clow, and art director Brent Thomas, and shot at Shepperton Studios in the UK.

1984 was famously broadcast in the USA on January 22, 1984 during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII but contrary to popular belief, it was not broadcast only once: it hadpreviously been shown in the 1am sign-off slot for KMVT, Channel 11 in Twin Falls, Idaho, in order to qualify for that year’s advertising awards, and a 30 second version had been shown in cinemas by ScreenVision.

The advert cost $400,000 to make with an additional $500,000 spent on airtime. The impact it made however, is estimated to have generated $5 million of free publicity.

The advert begins with a high angled shot of a vast cylindrical chamber, criss-crossed by transparently walled walkways. Through these walkways, which are lined by television monitors broadcasting political propaganda, we see grey, drabbly dressed, shaven headed and androgynous figures marching – or being marched – towards a large hall dominated by an enormous telescreen on which we see a Big Brother-like figure continuing the speech we heard in the walkways. Many of the workers wear breathing apparatus suggesting pollution – or possibly a fear of biological contamination. The speech praises unity and conformity of thought; his delivery and language – that of ”a garden of pure ideology” menaced by ”pest purveying contradictory truths” – deliberately evoke the speeches of Hitler and Stalin, Mao and Mussolini.

This sequence is intercut with slow-motion shots of an athletic young woman dressed in shorts and vest, carrying a large hammer, and being pursued by visored, fascistic-looking police. The woman is tanned, wears red shorts, and an Apple Picasso t-shirt, and represents the only colour in this dreary dystopian future. As the speech builds to its climax, and the rows of drab workers stare transfixed at the screen, the woman throws the hammer at the screen, which explodes showering the shocked audience with dust. The text ”On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like “1984.” then scrolls up the screen.

The future portrayed owes an obvious debt to George Orwell‘s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) – particularly the ”Two Minutes Hate” sequence – and this is confirmed by the text; the notoriously litigious (indeed, Orwellian) estate of Orwell issued a cease-and-desist letter to Apple and Chiat/Day in April 1984 and it was never broadcast afterward except in retrospectives about adverts. It also shows a visual debt to George Lucas‘ THX 1138 (1971).

The advert stars discus thrower and actress Anya Major, who would also star as ”Nikita” in the video of the Elton John song of the same name. ”Big Brother” is played by David Graham, a voice artist who had played Daleks in their first four Doctor Who outings, ”The Daleks’‘ (1963), ”The Dalek Invasion of Earth” (1964),  ”The Chase” (1965) and ”The Daleks Master Plan” (1965-66), and therefore no stranger to voicing fascistic figures. Graham is most famous as the voice of Parker in Gerry and Sylvia Anderson‘s Thunderbirds (1965), in which he also voiced Gordon TracyKyrano, Captain Hansen, and others; he would be more visible in Doctor Who as the barman Charlie in ”The Gunfighters” (1966), and as the ill-fated Professor Kerensky in ”City of Death” (1979). The workers were cast from among 200 skinheads.

The stunning cinematography was by Adrian Biddle (1952-2005) who had previously worked as a clapper loader on Scott’s The Duellists (1977) and focus puller on Alien (1979); he was hired as cinematographer for Aliens (1986) by James Cameron on Scott’s recommendation, and would work on Scott’s  own Thelma and Louise (for which he received an Oscar nomination, 1991) and 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992). Other sf included Danny Cannon‘s disappointing Judge Dredd (1995) and Paul W. S. Anderson‘s entertaining Alien-rip-off Event Horizon (1997). His last film as cinematographer, which was dedicated to him, was James McTeigue‘s V for Vendetta (2006).

It was edited by Pam Power at The Film Editors, London.

The ”Big Brother” figure – identified as ”Prophet Mentor” in the text on the telescreen – is generally interpreted as representing IBM, which dominated the home computer market at that time; Steve Jobs certainly interpreted it that way when the advert was shown to Apple’s annual sales meeting in Hawaii in October 1983. Copywriter Steve Hayden denies this intention, however:

The real villain was our collective fear of technology, not a corporation either real or imagined…

The first version of the spot was more Jetsons than Metropolis. The intention was to remove people’s fears of technology at a time when owning your own computer made about as much sense as owning your own cruise missile. We wanted to democratize technology, telling people that the power was now literally in their hands.

If you can remember back that far, the Cold War was still pretty hot. Reagan was in the White House, and the Soviet Union was the Evil Empire. We knew that if fax machines could bring down dictatorships, personal computers could do infinitely more. The Big Brother of the spot wasn’t IBM—it was any government dedicated to keeping its populace in the dark. We knew that computers and communications could change all that.

Steve Hayden, 1984: As Good as t Gets”

Ironically Apple itself would later be seen as representing the same authoritarian ”big business” that this advert was satirising: Motorola, developers of a rival Smartphone, portrayed Apple as Big Brother in their own Superbowl commercial in 2011.

The advert was not popular with Apple’s board. Apple had originally bought two minutes of advertising time during Super Bowl XVIII: as an indicator of their lack of confidence in the ad 30 seconds of that time was sold to Hertz and a second 30-seconds were sold to Heinz. Chairman Mike Markkula proposed sacking the ad agancy. It has, however, been acknowledged as a classic.

The advert won both the 31st Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival – Grand Prix Award and the Clio Award in 1984; the Clio Awards Hall of Fame Award, and Advertising Age Award for Greatest Commercial in 1995; TV Guide – Number One Greatest Commercial of All Time in 1999; World Federation of Advertisers – Hall of Fame (Jubilee Golden Award) in 2003; and  an award for Best Super Bowl Spot (in the game’s 40-year history) in 2007. For the advert’s 20th Anniversary an iPod was added to the runner.

1984 Runner 11984 Runner 2

1984 Runner 31984 Runner 4

The advert has been parodied in both a Season Three episode of Futurama called ”Future Stock” (2002), and a Season Twenty episode The Simpsons called Mypods and Boomsticks” (2008) – in which Steve Jobs, ironically enough, played “Big Brother”.

And it still wasn’t the end for Scott and science fiction – as he later returned with a series of three Blade Runner inspired ”Futureworld” adverts for Barclays Bank.

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