World War II has long been a source of fascination for filmmakers, from the Hollywood propagandists who churned out pro-war movies in the ’40s to the mavericks who made anti-war films in the ’60s and ’70s to the post-war generation of filmmakers who in recent decades have re-examined the conflict from all angles. That re-examination is on-going, as it appears director Ridley Scott is set to join them by making a Battle of Britain film one of his next projects.
That will put Scott in good company, as Steven Spielberg made his great WWII combat film with Saving Private Ryan, Clint Eastwood made his with Letters From Iwo Jima, and Mel Gibson made his with Hacksaw Ridge. This summer, Christopher Nolan will join the ranks of cinematic WWII chroniclers when he takes audiences to the beaches of France for his film Dunkirk.
Deadline reports this is Scott’s WWII passion project, a film about the air campaign that turned the tide of the war and guaranteed the Nazis would never be able to invade Britain. Scott’s take on the Battle of Britain will be made for 20th Century Fox with Matthew Orton (Operation Finale) as screenwriter and Bridge of Spies writer Matt Charman as executive producer. The film was bought as a pitch last year by Fox and is said to be in the early stages of development.
The Battle of Britain has been depicted on film before, most notably in a 1969 film directed by Guy Hamilton and starring Michael Caine. That movie’s dogfight scenes, as Star Wars trivia buffs know, was a major inspiration for George Lucas when he conceived and shot the final Death Star battle from A New Hope. Ridley Scott now will bring his own master’s sense of visual storytelling to the air battles that prompted Winston Churchill to dub the campaign his nation’s “finest hour.”
Though Scott has never before tapped the massive vein of material that is WWII, he does have plenty of experience directing films that detail combat both modern and ancient. On the historical end, Scott tackled the Crusades in Kingdom of Heaven, the Roman campaign against Germania in Gladiator and the Jews’ struggle against the Egyptians in the somewhat controversial Exodus: Gods and Kings. Scott set his eye on modern warfare for his gripping action film Black Hawk Down, about a helicopter crew crash landing while on a mission in Somalia.
There will be very little rest for the 79-year-old Scott over the next few years. In addition to the Battle of Britain, Scott is set to dramatize the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III in Sony’s All the Money in the World with Natalie Portman and the War on Drugs in Fox’s The Cartel. Scott also has Alien: Covenant releasing this summer and has said he already has the next Alien sequel written and can “crank out another six.” Much like the RAF in WWII, there is no defeating Ridley Scott.