Some films stand the test of time, and you can watch them again and again. But unlike what we’ve been led to believe, the storylines of some famous flicks were ‘heavily influenced’ by other (read: lesser-known) films. Is it plagiarism or just inspiration? You decide.
1. Star Wars & The Hidden Fortress
George Lucas appears to be so enamoured with Japanese director Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress that he took what he could for his first Star Wars film and used the leftovers in the second. Using two tag-along types (R2D2 and C3PO) to tell the story is probably the most well documented similarity with The Hidden Fortress. In a 2001 interview, George Lucas openly discussed this specific component of his influences for Star Wars, saying “I remember the one thing that really struck me about The Hidden Fortress,” he said, “the one thing I was really intrigued by, was the fact that the story was told from the two lowest characters. I decided that would be a nice way to tell the Star Wars story. Take the two lowliest characters, as Kurosawa did, and tell the story from their point of view. Which, in the Star Wars case is the two droids, and that was the strongest influence.
2. Reservoir Dogs & City on Fire
While Reservoir Dogs is not a direct copy of City on Fire, there are definitely similarities in the plot (a group of criminals plan and blow a big job) and a couple of whole scenes that are very similar. Quentin Tarantino’s 1992 hit’s famous scenes echo the Chinese film, for instance both have four men walking in black suits, a tense standoff where three characters point a gun at each other, and shooting cops through a windscreen that shatters. Tarantino admits it too, saying to the Baltimore Sun that City on Fire is "a really cool movie. It influenced me a lot. I got some stuff from it."
3. A Fistful of Dollars & Yojimbo
Once again we see Akira Kurosawa’s name pop up, with another of his films being used as inspiration for the Clint Eastwood classic. This time the samurais are replaced with cowboys, and a hero with no name (Eastwood) arrives in a small town where two rival gangs fight for control. Unfortunately for director Sergio Leone, he was sued by Toho Productions due to the similarities, which delayed release of the film for three years. Eventually the two settled out of court and A Fistful of Dollars went on to become a major hit.
4. The Lion King & Kimba the White Lion
Besides the obvious similarities between the main characters’ names (Simba and Kimba sound quite alike don’t they?), many more elements of the plot mirror each other. Both the Disney film and the Japanese Manga have a bird, baboon and hyenas as supporting characters in the movies. There is a scene in which both Simba and Kimba stand on the cliff tops overlooking their future kingdoms, and each has an evil lion wanting to claim their stake at the throne (both ’Scar’ and ‘Claw’ have a scar on one eye). Despite having many similar scenes, it seems that the Kimba creators didn’t want to take on the behemoth that is Disney. They are quoted in the LA Times as saying "Our company's general opinion is The Lion King is a totally different piece from [Kimba] and is an original work completed by [Disney's] long-lasting excellent production technique."
Did you know about any of these inspirations for the more famous film? We would love to hear what you think now that you know that the story was not perhaps one hundred percent original.