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Oscars 2002 Tuesday, 13 February, 2001, 18:48 GMT
Ridley Scott: Hollywood visionary
Ridley Scott and Anthony Hopkins
Ridley Scott directs Anthony Hopkins in Hannibal
Director Ridley Scott has made his name through some of the most memorable films of all time, including Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator and now Black Hawk Down.

Ridley Scott is a director noted for films with impressive visionary sweep, and strong visual style, taking cinema-goers on journeys into space, the future and the past.

The 63-year-old director was born in Northumberland and started his career as a set designer with the BBC, before becoming a director on the long-running police series Z Cars.

From the outset he combined his creative talents with entrepreneurial skills.

Russell Crowe
Russell Crowe stars in Scott's epic Gladiator
In the 1970s he set up Ridley Scott Associates, working with his brother Tony, who is also a director, on a series of high-profile advertising campaigns.

He made his feature film debut with The Duellists in 1977, which won the Jury Prize for Best First Feature at the Cannes Film Festival.

But it was Alien, released in 1979, that marked out Scott as an important director who could also achieve commercial success.

Alien helped launch the career of Sigourney Weaver and spawned three sequels, although they were not as critically lauded as the first, and were not directed by Scott.

In 1982, the director found himself at the centre of a storm around his production of Blade Runner.

Ridley Scott and Julianne Moore
Scott with Julianne Moore on the set of Hannibal
Scott clashed repeatedly with studio executives over the film's complex content and downbeat ending.

He eventually conceded, adding a voiceover and a more positive ending to appease the studio.

The film fared poorly at the box office and with film critics but in the last 10 years the film has seen a dramatic re-appraisal, helped by the release of Scott's original vision of the film, and it is now considered a modern masterpiece.

Oscar winner

In 1991, Scott took the helm of Thelma and Louse, a re-working of the traditional road movie with a feminist twist.

Starring Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon, the paean to freedom and honesty won six Academy Awards, including a best director statuette for its director.

Scott the businessman has also enjoyed a productive time - he runs Scott Free Productions, a Los Angeles-based film and TV development and production group.

He is also a major shareholder and co-chairman of Pinewood-Shepperton Holdings Limited which owns Pinewood Studios and Shepperton Studios,

Julianne Moore and Anthony Hopkins
Julianne Moore and Anthony Hopkins chill audiences in Hannibal
The 90s marked Scott's poorest period with the critics and the cinema-going public.

The epic 1492: Conquest of Paradise, high seas-drama White Squall and Demi Moore-vehicle GI Jane all bombed at the box office.

But the Roman epic Gladiator, released last year, marked a triumphant return to success.

A homage to classic Hollywood fare, such as Ben Hur and Spartacus, Scott's vision was praised by critics and audiences alike.

It has earned more than $400m (275m) at the box office world-wide and already earned Scott a Golden Globe as best director.

Following his success with Gladiator, he took the reins on the much-anticipated sequel to Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal.

Black Hawk Down is Scott's dramatic retelling of the US Army's doomed rescue mission in Mogadishu.

The film has been criticised by some for showing a biased view of the battle that left 18 US soldiers and about 500 Somalis dead. But others have praised its realism.

And despite fears over whether audiences would have the appetite for war movies after 11 September, its release was brought forward by three months to capitalise on patriotic feeling and qualify for the Oscars.

It has attracted viewers from across the spectrum of cinema-goers, not just those who would normally go to see war films.

And, when released, it ended The Lord of the Rings' month-long reign as the most popular film at United States and Canada cinemas.

Countdown to the biggest event of the movie year

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