The searching soul of Ridley Scott


Ridley Scott has not always hit the nail on the head when it comes to making films. But when he has, the nail can go straight to the heart of the matter. He seldom gives answers to the mysteries of our existence on this crazy planet but he certainly keeps us asking.

His masterpiece, Blade Runner, can be visited again and again and has enough layers in its composition to keep us coming back to it repeatedly with relish, either for yet another viewing or just in our imagination and memory where, for some of us at least, it will remain embedded forever.

The Martian has ideas but lacks the atmospheric power of Blade Runner. It is still bright star in the rather dark firmament of 21st century film-making to date.

Scott’s new film is Alien: Covenant – a return to the tried and tested franchise which for all its misfits is away above the sci-fi comic-book franchises which have plagued and blighted this great art-form for decades now.

Just released worldwide, the latest Alien is reviewed by David Ives for Aleteia. In it he sees signs of Scott’s further probing of the universe for answers to the overwhelming question: is there or isn’t there a God in the heavens? Ives describes himself in these terms:

In a world he didn’t create, in a time he didn’t choose, one man looks for signs of God in the world by… watching movies. When he’s not reviewing new releases for Aleteia, David Ives spends his time exploring the intersection of low-budget/cult cinema and Catholicism at The B-Movie Catechism.

He writes this about Scott and his oeuvre: 

The previous film in the Alien franchise, 2012’s Prometheus, was something of a mixed bag for long-time fans of the series. While it marked the much longed for return of original director, Ridley Scott, it was hardly a revisit to the thrills and chills of the first film. Rather than H. R. Giger’s classic Alien xenomorph chasing astronauts through darkened corridors, there were instead puddles of evil black goo and lots of arguments about whether or not God exists.

That seems to be a question that has been bothering Scott for a while now, as evidenced by such projects as Kingdom of Heaven, Exodus: Gods and Kings, and his failed attempt to jump start a TV series about the Vatican. Perhaps he keeps coming back to it because he can never get a solid “No” as an answer. For example, in a recent interview with Dread Central, the director talked about speaking to a group of scientific advisers while filming The Martian.

“I said, to some scientists, who believes in God? There was a long silence and out of seven of them, four went … and I said you believe in God? Oh wow, and you’re astrophysicists, astromathematics, I mean how can you actually believe in God when it’s all about technology? They said, we always reach a wall. I said, is that right, what did the wall tell you? It tells me we’re not clever enough so whatever is behind that wall is the evolution of how it really occurred. So I said, is that where we get God from? He said, yup.”

Apparently, nothing shakes up an atheist’s worldview like a scientist who believes in God. However, rather than dismiss the existence of such people like so many others in popular culture try to do, Scott incorporates them into his works. So, once again, we get an Alien movie in which a fair amount of time is spent watching smart people ponder the possibility of a creator.

Ives full review is here.

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