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Visionaries or Rip-off Artists? (Or Both?) Oct 08

When we think of people like James Cameron, Darren Aronofsky, the Wachowski brothers, Tarantino… many words come to mind: visionaries, geniuses, mavericks, thieves — wait, what?

Thieves?

The experts at CRACKED.com have come up with another excellent film-related article that showcases “7 Classic Movies You Didn’t Know Were Rip-Offs.”

I’m all for paying homage to classic movies, or using concepts from old shows or books as jumping off points to begin an original story, but did these movies take it too far?

CRACKED.com’s insightful and thought-provoking article provides a historical perspective, videos, and side-by-side screen captures, where applicable, of seven such instances.

Here are few images comparing Black Swan to a Japanese animated film called Perfect Blue, about:

… a pop singer instead of a ballet dancer, but other than that, Black Swan could pass for its American remake. In both movies, the young, innocent protagonist has just moved on to a more demanding job (dramatic actress/lead dancer), and the pressure turns her apeshit. She gets chased by a “double” who may or may not be the product of her imagination, and at one point becomes convinced that she killed someone.

Cracked - Black Swan Comparison

Cracked - Black Swan Comparison

Cracked - Black Swan Comparison

Yes, the pictures also come to life and taunt her in Perfect Blue.

Here’s the full list of movies that they scrutinize:

#7. Pirates of the Caribbean Is Suspiciously Similar to the Game The Secret of Monkey Island

#6. The Matrix Was a Comic Book

#5. Black Swan Was a Japanese Cartoon

#4. J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Is Really Star Wars

#3. Wild Wild West Was an Episode of Batman: The Animated Series

#2. Terminator Was a Bunch of Harlan Ellison Sci-Fi Stories

#1. Reservoir Dogs Was a Film From Hong Kong

It’s worth pointing out that a few key scenes and ideas does not a movie make. All of these movies (with perhaps the exception of Wild Wild West) feature brilliant story elements, dialogue and cinematic innovation that did not appear in the sources that are being cited. The execution of an idea is a thing unto itself. That’s why you can’t copyright a concept.

But — if the execution is virtually identical, that’s another matter… Seriously, check out the Reservoir Dogs section and tell me that wasn’t a flagrant rip-off something more than an homage.

What’s your take? Does the knowledge that these filmmaking icons borrowed (stole) key elements from these previous sources cause you to look at them in a different light?

Read the full article at CRACKED.com.

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3 Responses
  1. Scott says:

    Don’t forget “rich.”

    Most people won’t know or care.

    I’m writing RESERVOIR SWANS about a bank robber named Mr. Pink who really wants to be Mr. Blonde.

  2. Trevor Mayes says:

    Scott — Scriptwrecked readers definitely aren’t “most people.” :)

    I think you may be onto a hit movie there.

  3. Scott says:

    Ballet dancer, not bank robber.

    Okay, a male bank robber who needs the money for a sex change to become a female ballet dancer. Just keepin it original.

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