The genre of science fiction has been championed by a number of iconic filmmakers over the years, with Fritz Lang sculpting the expressionist masterpiece Metropolis in 1927, Stanley Kubrick creating the seminal 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968, and, more recently, Denis Villeneuve taking audiences on a complex trip in Arrival. Yet, arguably, no director has done more for the genre than the British mastermind Ridley Scott.
Helming multiple TV episodes and advertisements back in the early 1970s, Scott’s rise to prominence came later in the decade, when he would make his feature debut with The Duellists in 1977. Although his debut was certainly one of Scott’s most underrated pieces of work, true fame for the director wouldn’t come until two years later, with the release of his staggering sophomore project, Alien.
Inspiring filmmakers and fans across the world with its gooey approach to extraterrestrial life and intense horror, Alien magnetised a loyal fanbase for Scott, which would grow substantially with his next project, 1982’s Blade Runner, starring Harrison Ford. Based on Philip K. Dick’s complex novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Blade Runner was an instant hit that transformed Scott into a formidable icon of contemporary sci-fi.
Yet, whilst Scott remains adored in the industry, the filmmaker has long been apprehensive about voicing his opinion on the wider genre until he sat down with WIRED to discuss his five favourite sci-fi flicks of all time.
Ever the humble artist, two of Scott’s favourite sci-fi movies, he admitted, was Alien and Blade Runner, with the director stating that the latter had a considerable impact on the future of dystopian fiction. Elsewhere, he also highlighted the influence of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and the George Lucas flick Star Wars, which would go on to form one of cinema’s most lucrative franchises.
But, whilst these films are quite predictable, seeing as they are among the most popular of the genre, Scott also names one other underrated sci-fi movie that he loves.
“The one I thought was really good was one about the Cold War with Gregory Peck, and it was called On the Beach with Ava Gardner,” Scott told the publication, “And it’s the end of the atomic war, and the only area left ironically is Australia…Beautiful black and white movie. It’s when they’re really original which really counts, a jump forward, a quantum leap forward”.
Helmed by Stanley Kramer, the same mind behind Judgment at Nuremberg and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, On the Beach earned two Academy Award nominations at the time of its release.
Take a look at Scott discussing the movie and his other sci-fi favourites in the video below.