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Film Icons: Tony Scott


As of this writing, the circumstances regarding the death of Tony Scott are still unclear. However, based on the evidence, a logical conclusion would be suicide. But the obvious question is: why?

One thing the Internet likes to mention, like in this article from the Daily Mail, among others, is that Tony Scott spent his whole career living under his brother's shadow. For those of you who don't know, Tony's older brother is filmmaker Ridley Scott, and Ridley Scott's shadow is made up of a knighthood, three Academy Award, two Golden Globe, and two BAFTA nominations for directing, and three films starring Russell Crowe.

"I can't possibly live under his shadow. I'm a bit taller."

I love Tony Scott. I love his directing style more than his brother's. And I'm not saying that because he died first. Like if Ridley died first, I'd be saying I love Ridley's directing style more. No. I really love Tony Scott.

I first became aware of Tony Scott as a visual artist back when I was a film student at the Mowelfund Film Institute. This was during the final days of celluloid's reign as the dominant medium for motion pictures, when we just learned about the bleach-bypass technique. My friend and cinematographer Erick mentioned that there was a new movie coming out called Spy Game, which used the bleach-bypass technique. I asked him if it was any good. He answered, "Siyempre, Tony Scott 'yun e."

Not even because of Robert Redford and Brad Pitt.

So I watched Spy Game, and was impressed by the style. It used hand-held camera movements, like a video journalist covering a war zone. And Scott knew about cinematic pacing. Which made him then my new favorite director.

Then I realized that Tony Scott was actually a part of my childhood. I remembered me and my uncles watching Top Gun on Betamax, trying to cover my hard-on when the sex scene with Kelly McGillis came on.

This scene did indeed take my breath away.

Then I remembered when we had a lot of bootlegged VHS tapes from Cambodia, the ones where they stuck a photograph of the film's poster on the blank cassette cover, and me and my brother were trying to glue the cover of The Last Boy Scout back on.

It always felt like Damon Wayans was taunting us.

Then I remembered back in high school, when we'd watch two movies a week on average. That was back when a movie ticket cost P30. We watched Crimson Tide, and we cheered because Denzel Washington was actually the good guy, even though he was black. Understand that back in 1995, a black hero and a white villain was not yet that common in action movies.

Wait, is that Tony Soprano? I mean James Gandolfini? It totally is.

Then I remembered back in college, during the very brief period when VCDs dominated, the time right after VHS and right before DVDs. We played the movie Enemy of the State over and over, scratching the discs so much that they started skipping. We loved it because of the high-adrenaline action, and because we couldn't quite grasp the idea that the government could conduct surveillance using your very own cellphone.


Tony Scott may also have played a big role in the revival of Mickey Rourke's millennium career, appearing in two Tony Scott films in as many years (Man on Fire and Domino, 2004-05).And we are glad to say that this blog has previously reviewed two Tony Scott films: The Taking of Pelham 123, and Unstoppable. If you read them, you'll notice how much we kept raving about Tony Scott.

Finally, I would like to say that not once did I compare Tony Scott to his brother Ridley. They had very different styles, and not once did it cross my mind that Tony needed to prove anything. Tony Scott was a brilliant filmmaker in his own right. Through Scott Free Productions, his directing career covered short films and music videos, something Sir Ridley never dabbled in. The fact that he explored and incorporated more modern and avant-garde filmmaking styles makes him a different creature from Sir Ridley Scott altogether.

This is, by the way, the longest obituary/tribute I have written to date, and the fact that I spent four hours creating this post shows how much respect I have for one of my cinematic influences, and how thankful I am for his body of work.

And now I leave you with the last short film by Tony Scott, "Agent Orange".

Anthony David Scott. 21 June 1944 ─ 19 August 2012.

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I thought you'd never mention Domino. I was towards the end when I was thinking, "This ain't complete without Domino!"....And there it was!

Of course, we shouldn't forget Domino. Hehe.

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