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Influence, Homage, or Theft?

Kickoff Poll! Did A New Hope steal from The Hidden Fortress?

  • They stoles it, Precious!

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    13

mnkykungfu

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Welcome! The intention of this thread is to encourage some friendly discussion about what role older films play in the creation of newer films. Everybody can chime in with their opinion, and hey, maybe even learn something about films they haven't seen. 
15578573.jpg


For the purposes of this thread:
-an Influence is: when a director, writer, or some person(s) involved in making a film include an element which is very similar to a previous film (that they may reasonably have seen). An example would be the story conceit of The Hangover, likely influenced by Dude, Where's My Car?...both films involve guys waking up from a night of partying to find something missing, which is the driving force of the rest of the film's narrative. However, the stakes are considerably higher in The Hangover, many details are different enough to suggest the filmmakers wanted to do something new, and it's likely not a tribute to the earlier film.

-an Homage is: when some person(s) involved in making a film include a combination of elements staged in such a way as to pay tribute and respect to an earlier film (from the Latin "hominaticum"- declaring yourself to your lord.) An example would be several of the action sequences in Hot Fuzz, which are homages to both Point Break and Bad Boys. Not only are the characters' actions the same, but the shots are composed nearly identically. While not absolutely necessary to do, we know this is an intentional homage because comparisons to those films have been set up earlier in Hot Fuzz.

-an outright Theft is: when some person(s) involved in making a film has closely imitated multiple elements of an earlier film to recreate the tone or beat of a scene without substantially adding anything new to it and without hinting to a general audience that it is in tribute. While obviously subjective, a good rule of thumb would be to apply the same standards as for Cultural Appropriation. Is the new film using the original film's elements in a way which respects their original intent? Or are they being used purely for aesthetics in order to profit from the uniqueness of the original idea? (Legally, the admittedly squishy standard is if the filmmaker is clearly making a reference or if it can be successfully argued that they are passing off the scene/idea as their own.) Some pretty clear-cut examples include the infamous promotional posters for Solo: A Star Wars Story, and Shia LaBeouf's short film HowardCantour.com, which stole specific scenes and dialogue from the comic "Justin M Damiano", as well as its general premise.

So to kick this off, I thought I'd go to an old classic debate and see how people weigh in...
Star Wars: A New Hope versus The Hidden Fortress.
Peasants.jpg

For anyone unfamiliar with the similarities, there are many articles, including this one. The overall argument seems to be that some of the story premise, the basic characters and relationships, and some particular shot compositions from The Hidden Fortress line up very similarly with A New Hope. So what do you think? Was it an influence, and homage, or theft?


Credit to @"Moe_Syzlak" for suggesting this thread and the name!
 

Malthus

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mnkykungfu said:
The intention of this thread is to encourage some friendly discussion about what role older films play in the creation of newer films.

Neat idea for a thread. Last night I watched Suspiria (1977) and I immediately could see its influence on a whole range of subsequent films.
 

pulp

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When I think about this discussion, I always think about how spike lee lifted the love/hate thing from the night of the hunter. Its never so clear out and I always think it's a combination of the three.
 

DigModiFicaTion

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These two videos do a good job at revealing some more of this "borrowing" in Star Wars.
 

The Scribbling Man

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I'd say it's somewhere between influence and homage. George has never tried to hide the fact that he was inspired by Kurosawa's films, especially Hidden Fortress. There are many similarities, but nothing that would constitute as a rip off IMO.

For those that don't know, there is a fantastic "reverse homage" fanedit that re-subtitles and re-scores Hidden Fortress in order to bring out the Star Wars in it. I can't recommend it enough: https://ifdb.fanedit.org/the-sukaiwaka-fortress/
 

mnkykungfu

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^Thanks for making me take a closer look at that edit. I mostly know SSJ for his rather... tongue-in-cheek posts and, let's say... adventurous... editing choices. This one looks like a different affair altogether, and very relevant for this thread. :rolleyes:
 

Racerx1969

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Apropos that I see this thread now. I'm currently watching Yojimbo and have Hidden Fortress next in my watch queue specifically because I've wanted to revisit the Kurosawa films that inspired some of my favorites.

I also think it's somewhere between influence and homage. From various articles I've read, Lucas has apparently acknowledged this fact.
 

mnkykungfu

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^In everything I've seen, Lucas has acknowledged Hidden Fortress but tended to downplay its influence. He often talks about how he liked the idea of a story being told from the pov of the lowliest characters. But he has not addressed the number of similar characters, overall plot structure, or specific shot compositions, for example. Personally, I find his evasions a bit uncomfortable, like he's wording it very precisely to avoid getting sued for plagiarism, BUT...

The audience has spoken! About 70% of you say that A New Hope was a deliberate homage to The Hidden Fortress!
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New match-up, another classic! 
A Fistful of Dollars (1964) versus Yojimbo (1961)

best_remakes_slide_show-slide-10.jpg

For anyone unfamiliar with the similarities, there are many articles, and there's a pretty cool comparison video here. Others of you may have just assumed this was a Remake, but no! For a Remake, the production studio would have to be contacted beforehand, given permission, and money exchanged hands. None of that was done when A Fistful of Dollars was made.

Besides the basic premise (a wandering fighter coming into a town where two warring gangs are at an impasse, and playing both sides off each other while getting involved with a widow), the main argument seems to be that the overall tone and character were copied, as well as specific shots and location setups. For example, both main characters are unnamed, mostly silent, and give little indication of their motives. In contrast to the matinee idols and slick production of the time, both films present a stark, gritty tone with dishevelled protagonists. I'll leave you to do the research and discuss.... 
What do you think? Was it an Influence, an Homage, or Theft?
 

Racerx1969

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They stoles it, Precious!

No question. I still enjoy it though. But having finally watched Yojimbo (and seeing that one was heavily influenced by American Westerns), it's clear which is the better movie.
 

TM2YC

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I've always meant to watch Jean-Pierre Melville and Alain Delon's 1967 film 'Le Samourai' because it's supposed to be the inspiration for John Woo's 1989 film 'The Killer' (a definite contender for my favourite ever movie) and the Criterion blu-ray has recently arrived. Yippee!

 
From Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Samouraï#Influence_and_legacy):  Hong Kong director John Woo's 1989 film The Killer was heavily influenced by Le Samouraï's plot, with the pianist replaced by a singer. Chow Yun-fat's character Jeffrey Chow (international character name for Ah Jong) was obviously inspired by Alain Delon's Jef Costello. The inspiration, or homage, is confirmed by the similarity in the character names. Woo acknowledged his influences by writing a short essay on Le Samouraï and Melville's techniques for the film's Criterion Collection DVD release

Alain Delon's 707A brand shades were worn by Chow Yun Fat in 1986's 'A Better Tomorrow' (presumably because of the 'Le Samourai' connection).

fddede9f7e4f0c20844f5bb764f2d5ba.jpg


In 1988's 'Tiger on the Beat', Chow's character claims he's mixing a secret hangover-cure recipe which was passed from "Bruce Lee, to Jackie Chan, to Alain Delon, to Stallone, to Ti Lung, to me" which humorously references the influences between Hong Kong and western cinema.

It'll be interesting to finally see how much DNA 'Le Samourai' shares with Chow films, beyond thin black tie wearing hit men and birdcages :D :

le-samourai.jpg
 

TM2YC

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I reviewed 'Le Samourai' and 'The Killer' here.  I also noticed how they're an influence on 'Drive', as well as the more obvious Tarantino homages.  I'd categorise 'The Killer' as definitely a homage from a Melville fan (which Woo has made no secret of) but the plot is similar enough that had Melville been alive in 1989 he could've sued, although Woo has said so many nice things about him, that I'd like to think he wouldn't.

"Melville is God to me" - John Woo

^ From this article.
 

mnkykungfu

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^The Killer seems like an homage in part. I always loved the angle of the "killer develops a conscience" due to his wounding of the singer. The idea that he does everything for her as a form of redemption is the core of the film for me. It seems that's not present in Le Samourai.
 

TM2YC

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mnkykungfu said:
^The Killer seems like an homage in part. I always loved the angle of the "killer develops a conscience" due to his wounding of the singer. The idea that he does everything for her as a form of redemption is the core of the film for me. It seems that's not present in Le Samourai.

I totally agree about the importance of that element in The Killer.

In Le Samourai...

...the singer/pianist character witnesses the killer's assassination at the club but he does not accidentally blind her (like in The Killer), they just look at each for a while and then he leaves in silence.  However, he's later paid by his bosses to kill her (because she's a witness).  Instead he kills them and goes back to club followed by the police and walks up to the singer character and stands there pointing his gun at her until the police shoot him dead.  It's then revealed he hadn't loaded any bullets in his gun.  So it's got that sacrificial/redemption angle but nowhere near as strongly as in The Killer.

I think I forgot to mention that in the English dub of The Killer, Chow's character Ah Jong is called Jeff, the same as Delon's character Jeff.  Also, unless I'm mistaken there are no doves, candles and crucifixes in Le Samourai, so Woo must have got his obsession with those from somewhere else ;) .

EDIT: Oh yeah I did mention it.
 

mnkykungfu

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You guys decided in the last matchup I posted that A Fistful of Dollars was definitely stolen from Yojimbo. Well, the law is on your side. Kurosawa filed a lawsuit for copyright infringement, and Leonne settled outside court in order to allow for a US release of his film. Kurosawa later complimented Leonne, saying he "made a fine movie, but it was my movie."
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New match-up! It's celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, so time to look at
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) versus Harry Steele and the Secret of the Incas (1954)

Steele-y-Jones.jpg


This one is a little lesser known and harder to find, so I'll link a couple things to help you decide. Aside from the overall look and vibe of the main character, there are rather specific story similarities. This scene may trigger Raiders memories...

And it's not only in Raiders...
05.jpg


Lucas and Spielberg have said that Raiders was influenced by the radio serials and pulp novels of their youth, but to my knowledge they've never specifically mentioned The Secret of the Incas. There are of course other people who have noticed this, and some have even edited Incas to have more of a familiar score. I'll leave you to look up more and discuss....
What do you think? Was it an Influence, an Homage, or Theft?
 

Moe_Syzlak

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Are you sure Harry Steele predates Raiders? It sounds like the porn version of Indiana Jones. 😜

Swooning woman: “Harry, is that an artifact in your pants or are you just holy to see me?”

Harry Steele: “Fortune and glory, sweetheart. Fortune and glory.”
 
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DigModiFicaTion

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It's totally theft, but all good art is essentially stolen art.
 

TM2YC

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The whole point of Indy was to take that type of "old fashioned" adventure film from the past and give it a big budget modern blockbuster polish, to make it cool and sexy. So I think an accusation of them ripping off a film like the one mentioned would be met with the response "Good! We're glad you thought so, that means we did our job right". Plus surely the 1954 film is just drawing from the same serial influences and adventure books.

That type of jacket is on adventurers in other films like 1939's 'Only Angels Have Wings' for example...

only-angels-have-wings-slide[1].jpg


...but I imagine they did have that specific Heston film in mind as well. It's very close to the Indy look. I've never seen it, so I can't judge if the script is similar, or the characterisation. I'd guess loving homage.
 

mnkykungfu

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Are you sure Harry Steele predates Raiders? It sounds like the porn version of Indiana Jones. 😜
There is actually a porn version (because of course there is)... the first one that came up when I searched was a gay one called "Raiders of the Lost Arse". I was content to stop searching there. Perhaps Harry Steele made an appearance.

One vote for Theft, one for Homage! Please do continue to weigh in, lurkers.
 
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