5. Ridley Scott
Black Rain was directed by Ridley Scott, and marked the British directors sixth feature film. Ridley Scott is a brilliant creator of film, and purveyor of stories. His films prior to Black Rain are held in high esteem by film critics and audiences alike, and for such a short filmography, feature some iconic names. His first feature film, the 1977 The Duellists, is known for its historical accuracy. The 1979 science fiction piece, Alien, is one of the most popular pieces of sci-fi in the history of cinema and was nominated for two Academy Awards, winning Best Visual effects. In 1982, Scott brought us Blade Runner, a financial disappointment at the time, but a masterpiece of film from a modern perspective. Like Alien, Blade Runner was nominated for two Academy awards, in Best Art Direction and Best Visual Effects, though won neither. In 1985, Legend was released to some critical appraisal, and in 1987 Someone To Watch Over Me was also met with positive reviews. So in 1989, with award-winning experience and a proven method of direction, Ridley Scott brought us Black Rain. Immediately, Black Rain is a striking visual presentation, delivering a clean-cut, focussed picture of gritty realism. The film has two main settings; the steamy streets of New York City, and the cool, rainy nights of Osaka. Both settings are portrayed in a realistic, yet artistic light. The long spans of the bridges in New York provide a wide and open space where the protagonists, Nick Conklin and Charlie Vincent appear free; whereas the tall buildings, closed streets and congestion of Osaka mirror the entrapment of the two American detectives.
It is in the visualisation of cityscapes that Ridley Scott shows his hand. His most vivid creation up to 1989 was the vast, bleak and ruined metropolis of the futuristic, yet dilapidated, Los Angeles in Blade Runner. The dark streets, neon lights and confusion of the city offer a suitably eerie backdrop to the storyline. In Black Rain, the majority of the film finds its setting in Osaka, Japan. Ridley Scotts presentation of Osaka shows the same visual cues as the LA from Blade Runner, but with additional confusion. Japanese culture is represented as brightly lit neon symbols adorning towering blocks of buildings, whilst darkened alleyways and streets are littered with an air of tension. The shadowy nature of the aesthetics literally foreshadows the events of the film, as the two American detectives stumble into an unseen trouble.