Sunday, 26 August 2012

Remembering Tony Scott

I was 13, when I saw Enemy of the state (EOTS). It was the same year I saw Kuch kuch hota hai and Pyaar to hona hi tha and I remember thinking what would it take to make a movie like EOTS in India. Back then, I did not know about  the concept of editing, cinematography, screenplay etc. No movie had given me the sense of thrill, adrenalin, like EOTS. It was the first film that got me thinking about the aesthetics of film making. I was blown by the pace of the movie. I rushed to the nearest Crossword (It was 1998 and I had not even heard of Google) to seek more information on the movie.
It was then, that I came across the name, Tony Scott.

There is a popular line in Top Gun, "I feel the need, ... the need for speed!" this line alone sums up what people / admirers like me loved about his movies. Top Gun, made Tony's career and also defined and set a tone for commercial hits in the late 1980s. 
Scott was one of the first to extensively use flash cut editing, slow motion action sequences, extreme close-ups, and super - saturation and / or high contrast grainy visuals - techniques that would come to be employed by many subsequent filmmakers including Micheal Bay, Peter Berg and Oliver Stone.
His spinning camera shots and tight snickery-snack approach to editing were derived directly from two of his biggest influences : his years working in TV advertising and MTV.
A lover of fast cars on and off the screen, Tony was adept at injecting thrills into his slick films. This was hugely loved by his fans and hugely hated by his critics. All the slickness and technical wizardry rarely brought him critical acclaim and his movies were always unfairly and unfavorably compared with the more ambitious, deep and sentimental works of his older brother- Sir Ridley Scott. 
Unlike Ridley, Tony was never nominated for an Oscar. Nonetheless, several of Tony's films were rewarded with huge commercial success. 

Top Gun immediately  opened the doors to huge funding and big proposals.He then went on to direct Beverly Hills Cop 2, Revenge, Last boy scout and Days of thunder which paired him with Cruise again.
Just when people thought that he was content making actioners with Jerry Bruchiemer, he popped a surprise in 1993. He adapted the script of  a certain young man, called Quantin Tarentino. He scottified it and showed the world that his movies are not only about technical glitz. that even he can direct a movie with sharp and witty dialogues, handle an ensemble cast with panache.
He then settled into directing a sequence of highly entertaining, star powered thrillers like Crimson Tide, The Fan and Enemy of the state, each with convincing performances from Denzil Washington, Robert de Niro and Will Smith respectively.

Over a period of time, as he directed movies like Spy Game, Man on fire, deja Vu, Taking of Phelham 123, he not only concentrated on style but these films also gained subtlety and sophestication. His charecters became more complex and darker, dealing with complex emotions. 
His movies gave simple pleasure. There was a musicality to everything. he made complex scripts seem beautiful and engaging.

I have always felt that critics took his skills for granted and did not appreciate the artistry he brought to the table. To call him as just an "action filmmaker" would be huge injustice to him. Few people combine talent and artistry the way Tony Scott did.

 Deep down, I know that this is not the best eulogy written in your name, but I also know that words wont do justice to your work.
I shall miss your movies Mr.Scott. May your soul rest in peace.