Everyone has a group of people who influence them when they’re younger. I had a core group of directors that shaped what I love about films. They were Sergio Leone, Terrence Malick, David Fincher, Robert Rodriguez, Ridley Scott and Tony Scott. All those directors shaped my youth and in turn shaped my tastes and own personal style. They were the directors who also helped introduce me to film music.
I’ve never had to experience the loss of a personal hero since Sergio Leone had long passed before I discovered him. With Tony I looked forward to every one of his films with great anticipation. I would buy the DVD’s/Blu-ray’s and watch the special features. I would watch him direct and watch him talk about each film. I'd watch footage of him on set dressed in his signature pink hat and fishing vest giving directions. His films had a raw intensity that no other director could achieve. They were masterpieces of editing and his camera style was like watching a painter with a brush. His action was intense, but he always found a way to inject a human side into the story.
A huge part of the emotional impact in his films was Harry Gregson-Williams’ music. Tony Scott first worked with him on Enemy Of The State where Harry co-composed with Trevor Rabin. After that Harry and Tony stuck together and from that point on Harry scored every single Tony Scott film; a total of 7 features and 1 short . His music was a sonic staple of a Tony Scott picture. You can clearly hear that Harry had developed a certain soundscape especially for Tony’s films. Many of his Tony Scott scores reuse motifs and styles that while inherently are Harry’s stylings can only be heard in a Tony Scott film. There was no such thing as a Tony Scott film without Harry Gregson-Williams.
Tony also brought Denzel Washington to the screen more times than any other director. The actor returned time and again to act for Tony for a total of 5 films. It speaks volumes that an actor returns that many times to work with a director. With his brother Ridley the two were also a formidable producing team. Scott Free produced hit shows and films even if neither of them were in the director’s seat. I’ve heard people trash Tony’s films and when I did it felt like they were trashing me. I connected so much to his films. I burst into tears at the end of Man On Fire every time, and I’ve seen that film at least 20 times. Deja Vu is so intense that my face gets flushed when I watch it. Spy Game is a superbly acted, directed and scored thriller that is the epitome of Tony’s skills that grab me as a viewer. The Taking Of Pelham 123 was an amazing character-heavy remake. Unstoppable was pure Tony Scott escapism. And we can’t forget about Top Gun, Days Of Thunder, Beverly Hills Cop II, Crimson Tide, The Fan, True Romance, The Last Boy Scout, Domino and many more.
The definition of an auteur as defined by Merriam-Webster is
: a film director whose practice accords with the auteur theory; broadly
: an artist (as a musician or writer) whose style and practice are distinctive
You can watch 10 seconds of a Tony Scott film and recognize that it’s him. His style is so recognizable and so effective. Rockstar Games undoubtedly used his style for the entire art direction of Max Payne 3. He is without a doubt an amazing auteur who was able to put a personal stamp on anything he touched. He is a creative force I admired.
I found out about Tony’s death when my friend texted me on Sunday evening. Literally moments before finding out I picked The Taking Of Pelham 123 from my shelf and was getting ready to watch it. At the last second I put it back and opted for another film, then I found out. I still am having a hard time realizing I’ll never see a new Tony Scott film in the theater again. I remember seeing Unstoppable on Thanksgiving day because my friend and I wanted to see it, but no one else wanted to go. So we went just the two of us. We also decided to make a bet whether or not the film would end on a freeze frame. Tony Scott is that much of an auteur that we would actually predict which of his signatures would make it in the film. He was truly one of a kind and I owe much of my love for film to him. I don’t know why he decided to leave now with so much left to offer. When anyone takes their own life you can only wonder what pain in their life caused it. It sucks that he's gone, but at least I know he's not in pain anymore. I take comfort knowing that Ridley will carry on their legacy and his films will also carry on. Farewell Tony, I'll miss your movies. Thanks.