Everyone knows movies pinch ideas from each other all the time. Given the hundreds of motion pictures made each year, its unlikely that many will be especially original. As long as there remains an insatiable appetite for new movies with the public, filmmakers will be tempted by simple economics to plunder the archives for quick ideas, until, like painting the Forth Bridge, they get to the end and start all over again. We all know this: yet critics and fans still get downright angry about rip-offs, perhaps because it often seems unfair that someone might have done it better, or first, and yet not receive the credit. Producers of remakes are usually obliged to give credit to the original, but directors who steal mere set-pieces from classics are by and large (unless its excessively blatant) under no great burden of truth. Its left to critics, historians and eagle-eyed fans to make sure that the beloved scenes from their favourite (and not so favourite) movies are put in their rightful place. Here are a few examples of some landmark as well as not so landmark scenes, all of which owe more than a little debt of inspiration to earlier works. Some of them have been publically acknowledged as homage: others are just downright shameless little rip-offs. As Quentin Tarantino once said: If its done well, its homage, but if its done badly, its just plagiarism
10. Star Wars IV: A New Hope (1977) The Triumph of the Will (1935)
Its a well documented fact that just about every part of A New Hope was lifted from somewhere else by creator George Lucas. His first entry into the hugely successful space-opera is perhaps the definitive example of how a movie can become greater than the sum of its influences. There are hundreds of books and websites devoted to the inspirations for Star Wars (such as The Hidden Fortress being used for the duel between Darth Vader and Obi Wan Kenobi, as just one example) but by far the most intriguing, and surprising influence on Lucass epic is a 1935 Nazi propaganda feature called The Triumph of the Will, which Lucas watched closely while story-boarding the awards ceremony at the end of his own film. Much like D.W. Griffiths unpleasantly racist 1915 epic, The Birth of a Nation, Hitlers propaganda piece was technically something of a landmark in filmmaking, yet it was also, of course, full of extremely troubling mise-en-scène, even if some of its staging worked surprisingly well when inserted into a galaxy far, far away
Since studying Film and Art History at University, I’ve been an actor, movie stand-in and journalist. I have contributed to a number of media websites, worked on national daily newspapers, written fiction of all kinds and worked as a gravedigger.