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Meet the director behind Gladiator and Robin Hood

Last updated on: June 11, 2010 10:58 IST

Image: A scene from Legend
Raja Sen in Mumbai

Ridley Scott is 72 now, but the director shows absolutely no signs of exhaustion.

His films are bigger than ever, and with Robin Hood hitting Indian theatres today, here are my favourites from his extensive, diverse filmography:

10. Legend

Scott's underviewed take on the fairy tale genre was severely compromised at the time of its release, but the film blossoms on DVD, its unique cast -- juggling Tom Cruise and Tim Curry -- working in wonderful, idiosyncratic harmony.

If you haven't watched it, do yourself a favour and get a hold of the significantly improved director's cut.

9. Matchstick Men

Image: A scene from Matchstick Men

One of those films Bollywood filmmakers turn to every time they hear the words 'con movie', this adaptation of Eric Garcia's novel bettered the book.

Nicolas Cage, Sam Rockwell and Alison Lohman star in this clever film about criminals, liars, fathers and daughters.

8. Hannibal

Image: A scene from Hannibal

Set ten years after Jonathan Demme's phenomenally successful Silence Of The Lambs, Hannibal is about the titular villain's only victim trying to trap and kill him.

Anthony Hopkins reprised his role as Hannibal Lecter, while Jodie Foster, choosing to distance herself from the project, was replaced in the role of Clarice Starling by Julianne Moore.

Moore, a more gifted actress, was instrumental to how solid Scott's follow-up turned out.

7. Black Hawk Down

Image: A scene from Black Hawk Down

Scott has always been great at mounting powerful war scenes, and this film about the Battle Of Mogadishu -- starring Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Eric Bana and Tom Sizemore -- is a compelling, visceral war film that also happens to be a visual feast.

6. Gladiator

Image: A scene from Gladiator

Bringing back the sword-and-sandal genre in style, Scott's mammoth Gladiator was a sweeping success.

The film, about a disgraced Roman general avenging the murder of his Emperor and his family, was anchored by a towering Russell Crowe performance.

The director and actor have been frequent collaborators since.

5. The Duellists

Image: A scene from The Duellists

Scott's first film features some of the most authentic swordfighting seen in modern cinema. Based around the Napoleonic Wars, it was about an initially trivial argument between two French officers that turns into a long and protracted feud.

The filmmaker's extraordinary attention to detail, especially period detailing, is clearly demonstrated right from the start.

4. Alien

Image: A scene from Alien

One of the most iconic films in the sci-fi horror genre, Alien is the film where we met Ellen Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver.

Sure, there were others, but Weaver's leading lady was a badass like no woman before, and Scott played around with the character expertly with this deceptively tricky cat-and-spacerat film, guaranteed to have you on the edge of your seats.

3. Blade Runner

Image: A scene from Blade Runner

Based loosely on Philip K Dick's seminal Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, this is a truly groundbreaking sci-fi classic, a 28-year-old film that still feels ahead of its time.

Set in a dystopian Los Angeles, the film is about human clones called Replicants being hunted down by police operatives called Blade Runners.

A tremendous accomplishment, this film.

2. Thelma & Louise

Image: A scene from Thelma and Louise

A road movie about two women who kill a rapist and go on the run, this film sees Scott at his most nuanced.

Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis play the leads, wonderfully contrasting characters who take off in a Thunderbird convertible just wanting to get away.

A gritty, believable, stunning film with much heart: a masterpiece of the best kind.

1. '1984'

Image: A scene from 1984

Say what you will, but the finest work of Scott's career isn't a feature-length film at all, but an epochal commercial he directed for Apple Computers. Referencing George Orwell's 1984, the film shows a female athlete running into a buildingful of conformity and hurtling a hammer at a screen showing a dictatorial Big Brother.

The advertisement, a barely veiled attack on the computing world dominated by IBM, ends with the words, 'On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you'll see why 1984 won't be like 1984.'

It is, quite simply, one of the greatest television commercials in the history of the medium, perfect in every way, from the detailing to the dismantling of dogma.

Watch the epic ad here.