I know that I am not the first person to write on this topic. In fact, I've seen short films, websites, and podcasts dedicated to this very subject. But frankly, with every new film that comes out, I am more and more blown away by the audacity of a certain filmmaker when it comes to his liberal practice of stealing from better, lesser-known films. That's right: I think Quentin Tarantino is a dirty rotten plagiarist and I don't care who knows it.
Homage - something that shows respect or attests to the worth or influence of another. (Miriam Webster)
Plagiarize - to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own (Miriam Webster)
“I steal from every single movie ever made. I love it – if my work has anything it’s that I’m taking this from this and that from that and mixing them together. If people don’t like that, then tough titty, don’t go and see it, alright? I steal from everything. Great artists steal; they don’t do homages.” - Quentin Tarantino
Yup, there it is. For those of you who like to defend Tarantino as an original and creative artist, he pretty much just called you all jerks. He admitted to stealing his best ideas from people who are ACTUALLY creative and passing them off as his own, and then pretty much dared you to say a word about it. Because only a uncreative, homage-lover would call him out on it, right?
However, rather than spend 15 paragraphs ranting and raving about what an ass Tarantino is (which I could do), I am going to walk you through the movies he's stolen from and encourage you to seek those out instead. Because yes, the Kill Bill movies are great. But Lady Snowblood is infinitely better.
I had the pleasure of seeing Lady Snowblood long before I saw the Kill Bill films, as I was raised in a samurai-obsessed household. So imagine my surprise when I watched Tarantino's movies for the first time. Scene by scene, I could go through and point out where he stole identical shots and motifs from Toshiya Fujita, director of Lady Snowblood (and its sequel). But none was quite as glaring as the famous "snow fight" scene between Uma Thurman's The Bride and Lucy Liu's O-Ren Ishii.
There are multiple moments throughout the Kill Bill series that mirror shots in Lady Snowblood. But the idea for Kill Bill was original, right? Tarantino has claimed that he and Uma Thurman came up with the idea for the films while working on Pulp Fiction. Except...
This poster is from the film La Mariee Etait En Noir, or The Bride Wore Black, a 1968 film directed by François Truffaut. In the 1968 film, a young woman named Julie goes on a mission of vengeance, with the intention of murdering each of the five men responsible for killing her husband on their wedding day. She keeps track of the names of her intended victims in a notebook. Let's just reiterate that... She keeps track. Of her five intended victims. In a "kill list" notebook.
Quentin Tarantino claims he's never seen La Mariee Etait En Noir. While that claim doesn't really line up with his self-congratulatory tone over stealing from better films, there is no way to prove he's lying. Though, I'd say the facts speak for themselves.
Why bring this up now? Because word has come down that despite a scandal earlier in the year involving the leaked script for The Hateful Eight, Tarantino intends to make the film anyway. Even though he filed a massive lawsuit... because people stole from him.
So before you run out and throw money at Tarantino when The Hateful Eight does come out, here is a short list of some of the movies he's "borrowed" from. See them. Praise them. And remember them every time you watch Reservoir Dogs or Django, Unchained.
Some of the Movies That "Inspire" Quentin Tarantino
Angels with Dirty Faces (1938): Michael Curtiz
The Big Combo (1955): Joseph H. Lewis
The Killing (1956): Dir. by Stanley Kubrick
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966): Dir. Sergio Leone
Django (1966): Dir. Sergio Corbucci
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974): Dir. Joseph Sargent
Mandingo (1975): Dir. Richard Fleischer
The Fury (1978): Dir. Brian De Palma
A Better Tomorrow (1986): Dir. John Woo
City on Fire (1987): Dir. Ringo Lam
For a fully comprehensive list of the films that Tarantino has borrowed from, including soundtracks, quotes, and side by side shot comparisons, visit whatculture.com!