The Adrenaline Rush of a Tony Scott Movie

DIRECTING

“FEAR MOTIVATES ME.”

Tony Scott frenetic camera.

Movie director Tony Scott was a psychedelic artist with a frenetic camera, a master of flash cuts and distorted images. Watching his movies is like a purple haze high.

His films are an adrenaline rush to death or salvation, with soundtracks of classical music playing amid the bloodshed.

In one scene in ‘Man On Fire,’ Denzel Washington’s Creasy shoots a thug in the head and sends his car over a cliff to the painful strains of Luciano Pavarotti singing the operatic aria ‘Nessun Dorma.’

 

“It’s about energy and momentum,” Tony Scott said of his directing style. “But the true excitement comes from the actors. Whatever I can do with the camera is icing on the cake. I want the movie to grab you. I use four cameras and I do three takes. Maybe I move the camera more than I should, but that’s the way I am.”

Tony Scott films

Tony Scott’s films and his life were constantly veering toward the edge of doom. Away from the camera he risked his life in sheer rock climbing and racing fast cars.

“Fear motivates me,” he once said, “and I enjoy that fear.”

His own death was as surreal as a scene from one of his movies. Just after noon on Sunday, August 19, 2012, he parked his car on the Vincent Thomas Bridge in the San Pedro port of Los Angeles — a bridge that has been used in several movie shoots, including ‘To Live and Die in L.A.’ — climbed a fence, walked to the edge and jumped to his death. He was 68.

Tony scott suicide bridge
Tony Scott’s famous suicide bridge

He left a suicide note in his car and one in his office but the contents have never been released by the police or his family. His brother, fellow director Ridley Scott, said Tony had been privately fighting brain cancer for some time, although the coroner’s report showed no anatomical evidence of cancer and said the notes made no mention of any health problems.

The motivation to kill himself must have been as powerful as hell, because he left behind a beautiful young wife, film and TV actress Donna Wilson, and twin sons, Frank and Max.

Tony scott and family
Tony Scott with his wife Donna Wilson and twin sons, Frank and Max.

The British director achieved Hollywood fame in 1986 with ‘Top Gun,’ starring Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer. He followed it up with ‘Beverly Hills Cop II’ in 1987, ‘Days of Thunder’ (1990), ‘The Last Boy Scout’ (1991), ‘True Romance’ (1993), ‘Crimson Tide’ (1995), ‘Enemy of the State’ (1998), ‘Man on Fire’ (2004), ‘Déjà Vu’ (2006), ‘The Taking of Pelham 123’ (2009) and ‘Unstoppable’ (2010).

Of them all, my favorite and the one that best shows his unique cinematic technique is ‘Man on Fire’ with Denzel Washington and a young Dakota Fanning.

THE TONY SCOTT WAY

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