It’s nearly impossible for any film these days to be 100% truly original. Movies have been made for so long that just about everything is influenced by some kind of pre-existing work. Sometimes, directors can’t help but show their love for other projects, and they make their tastes very well known to the audience. You may not notice it at first, but some of the most popular scenes in your favorite films strongly resemble – or rip-off, if you will – sequences that made their way to the big screen much earlier. Here are 10 famous movie scenes that were stolen from other movies.
One of the most triumphant finales in all of cinema happens in the original Star Wars, where Luke and Han receive medals for their contributions during the Battle of Yavin. Just the music alone is enough to make anyone swell up with pride. So, its potential origins might surprise the most devout Jedi Knights. The Rebel’s ceremony is eerily reminiscent of a sequence in the Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will depicting a party rally. Traces of World War II can definitely be felt in the Star Wars franchise, but typically it’s the Empire meant to stand in for Hitler. We didn’t know the heroes were fond of him too.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Sam and Frodo’s journey through Middle-earth is exceptionally dangerous, even when they find a guide in the form of Gollum. The creature brings the Hobbits to the Black Gate of Mordor so Frodo can complete his quest, but Sauron’s army is there on the scene making things difficult. The trio of heroes is forced to hide and peer over a ledge, and this sequence calls to mind a similar scene from another fantasy classic. The Wizard of Oz features a moment where characters are right outside the Wicked Witch’s castle, trying to stay out of the villains’ sight. It wouldn’t be a shock if Jackson was a fan of Oz, seeing that the film has long been a favorite.
P.T. Anderson’s Boogie Nights is essentially the adult film version of Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas, and that influence was readily apparent from the opening moments. Anderson begins his movie with a sweeping one-take tracking shot of a club, introducing viewers to all the principal characters from the ensemble. It’s an impressive sequence, and it has traces of Goodfellas’ famous Copacabana tracking shot that left a huge impression on viewers. There, Henry Hill used his standing in the mob to take a short cut through the restaurant and get a table, greeting various employees along the way. Anderson may not have blatantly ripped off Scorsese, but the inspiration is apparent.
In horror films, few moments are as iconic as Jack Nicholson’s terrifying “Here’s Johnny!” sequence, where the actor takes an axe to a bathroom door so he can try to attack his wife and kid. It’s become so ingrained in the pop culture zeitgeist, that it’s almost impossible to imagine anyone else doing it first. But Stanley Kubrick may have taken some pointers from the silent Swedish horror film The Phantom Carriage, which features a scene that’s nearly identical to the one shown in The Shining, including the same setup and weapon of choice. Kubrick altered this scene from the novel, so we may know his source now.