Film is an amazing tool for storytelling and great movies can even encourage some to become great filmmakers themselves. Those inspired filmmakers often pay homage to the original that inspired them in the first place. However, not all directors imitate out of respect. There are certainly some directors who ripped off other movies just to make a large profit.
Sometimes filmmakers and directors will insert characters, lines, or whole scenes to pay tribute to their favorite films. However, there’s a fine line between reverence and plagiarism, and directors with impure motives are often called out for copyright infringement.
Cases of scene replication are far more common than you might realize. Here’s a list of a few famous movie scenes that were ripped off from other films. Judge for yourself if they're paying respect to the original or just totally copying.
The Award Ceremony In 'Star Wars: A New Hope' Mirrors An Award Ceremony In 'Triumph Of The Will'
The military award ceremony at the end of 1977's Star Wars: A New Hope is revolutionary. It's incredibly satisfying to see a farm boy and a smuggler rise beyond their stations, fight the good fight, and get medals for their efforts. The recognition shows that absolutely anyone can do great things, no matter where they originated from.
Notably, though, the scene mirrors one from Triumph of the Will, a German propaganda film made by Leni Riefenstahl in 1935. Adolf Hitler's Third Reich used the film to bolster support for their military in anticipation of the Reich's European invasion.
Samuel L. Jackson's Speech In 'Pulp Fiction' Is The Same Speech From 'Chiba The Bodyguard'
When Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) gives his biblical monologue in 1994's Pulp Fiction, viewers know something truly heinous is about to occur. It’s an epic moment when two amoral criminals enforce the will and vengeance of their ruthless boss Marcellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). Jackson's speech is the sort that will surely end in tears and blood.
But did you know that the whole spiel was copied from an old Sonny Chiba film? The religious lines are actually copied from the opening act in Chiba the Bodyguard, the 1976 Japanese martial arts movie. In Chiba's movie, the monologue ends with, "And you will know my name is Chiba the bodyguard when I lay my vengeance upon you." In Pulp Fiction, Jackson says that it's the Lord who will "lay vengenace."
The Baby Carriage In 'The Untouchables' Is Like The Baby Carriage In 'Battleship Potemkin'
Brian De Palma’s 1987 The Untouchables is an absolute masterpiece. There's a climactic moment in Union Station where Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) and George Stone (Andy Garcia) confront Al Capone’s men in an attempt to take custody of accountant Walter Payne (Jack Kehoe). During the dangerous shootout, a child's carriage rolls down Union Station’s steps. Ness chooses to protect the child and willingly enter a crossfire.
The rolling carriage image is also seen in 1925 Soviet film Battleship Potemkin. In that movie, a battleship sits at Odessa harbor after declaring a mutiny to support the 1917 Russian Revolution. Russian citizens gather at the Odessa steps to show their support when Cossack troops arrive to bring order. The soldiers get into formation and fire on the citizens gathered there. A mother is killed during the massacre and her baby carriage ominously rolls down the Odessa steps.
A Crazy Husband Chops Down A Door In 'The Shining' And In 'The Phantom Carriage'
The scene in 1980 movie The Shining when Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) chops open a door with a fire axe to get to his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) is incredibly memorable. The raw moment symbolizes Torrance's descent into absolute madness; he's willing to terrorize his wife to death.
Interestingly, axe-wielding husbands are not new. A Swedish film from 1926, The Phantom Carriage, was the first to depict a deranged father who chops down a door with a fire axe to get to his distraught wife. Though the two films end quite differently, it's easy to see the parallels between them.