We’re all getting older, and while I don’t wish to become too melodramatic or dwell too much on mortality or anything, it did nonetheless come as something of a shock to read in a recent Saturday newspaper that it was Ridley Scott’s 76th birthday, and Terrence Malick’s 70th. It’s a sobering reminder that two of my favourite directors (and isn’t that weird, them sharing the same birthday?) won’t be around forever, and that every future film they make should be something to be thankful for. Even if it does turn out to be another PROMETHEUS.
Ridley Scott has been making films for nearly all my life, certainly all of my adult life. He’s always been there, making films, good, bad or just plain average, but there’s always been a new film of his to look forward to. His best films were probably his first three- THE DUELLISTS, ALIEN and BLADE RUNNER are really great films, all capably demonstrating his strengths and, yes, weaknesses.
But reading that he’s now 76. Well. Looking back, memories of waiting outside my ABC cinema to go see LEGEND for the second time in order to soak up those visuals, or becoming bemused by Ridley going ‘real-world’ with SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME.. all the way through to the frustrations of PROMETHEUS, you know, I can see the years of my life pass by to the tick-tock of Ridley Scott films being released at the cinema. Its like my CD collection of Vangelis albums being a soundtrack to most of my life. You don’t realise how linked you are to an artists career and work until, a few decades later, you can look back and see it stretching back before you.
Both Ridley and Terrence Malick could yet have more than another decade or two of films ahead of them, and (unlikely as it may seem) those films may yet include their finest work yet. So its important not to dwell too much on the negative or consider that either of them are soon to drift off this mortal coil and their work become some finite DVD/Blu-ray boxset like that of Hitchcock or Kubrick. But their ages are a sobering reminder that they won’t always be working on movies, that retirement may be around the corner, or that other current titans of cinema, like Spielberg or Cameron for instance, won’t be around forever either. We have been fortunate these past few decades, we’ve had some very gifted directors making memorable movies. Good times. But while their films may survive and live beyond them, they themselves won’t be around forever.
What then, I wonder? Who survives them?