Stolen, borrowed, homage, parody, inspired by—these are only some of the ways of describing why we see very similar scenes done in different movies. Whatever the reasons, for some people, a copied scene is problematic and bothersome, for others it can be a neat little moment, especially gratifying if you were the one to notice it. No matter what we all think, it happens, has always happened and will continue to happen. So where do we draw the line? Surely most scenes that take place in most movies have been done before in some fashion. So let’s narrow it down to the iconic scenes, memorable happenings and scenarios that were later duplicated. Let’s narrow even further to big movies, if only to save me from watching every movie out there. It would be easy to borrow a scene from a movie that no one has seen, but when one big movie copies another big movie, we have ourselves a story.
Before we go any further, I’ll just say that most of these have an explanation. Some noted they were saving costs, some were outwardly inspired by their source material, and for the others, the scenes that were copied are so iconic that it is almost excusable that they were reused without recognition, almost like saying, “well yeah, of course this is where it’s from.” Here they are; 12 stolen scenes from other movies.
11 Star Trek VII, Stole From Star Trek VI
With all the nitpicking from fanboys of the Star Trek franchise, reusing old footage, and by old I mean, of course, three-year-old footage, is a really risky move. I can only imagine how quickly some of them noticed it, yelling out at the movie theater screen, “Hmm. Yes, that exact same D class battle-cruiser was destroyed by the USS Enterprise on Stardate 1233. Yes, indeed.”
10 Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Stole From War & Peace
Using a single shot from War & Peace isn’t too bad, is it? Well, in my mind, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure can do no wrong, so I’ll chalk this one up to paying tribute to history. It would make sense to do so, and I like to imagine the highly referential, radical franchise was aware of what they were using and from where. Since they were there to get Napoleon Bonaparte, it only makes sense to take him from the set of his most famous role! Right? Right?
9 Transformers, Stole From The Island
There’s something that doesn’t quite feel right about splicing in footage from other movies into your own, but when you take your own older footage and reuse it, that to me is just laziness. Michael Bay gets massive budgets to make movies. He has no excuse to use existing footage, especially when he is getting a reputation for doing it. The scene in question is a fairly lengthy shot full of Michael Bay explosions and Michael Bay car chases, where several different cuts are spliced in and around the reused shots. Simply add in a Transformer and you make it new, right? Funny enough, The Island is a copy of another film, so by copying elements of a copy, do two Michael Bay wrongs make a right?
8 Requiem For a Dream, Stole From Perfect Blue
When Harry Goldfarb sits in his bathtub, submerges his head between his legs and screams underwater in Requiem for a Dream, fans of Japanese animated films were hit with a stinging sense of déjà vu. Well, if you felt this way, you’re not crazy. They’re identical. Does Darren Aronofsky know this? Yeah, he bought the filming rights for the animated film just so he could film this scene ethically. Good on you Darren, good on you.
7 Blade Runner, Stole From The Shining
At the end of Blade Runner, there are shots of the wilderness that probably felt a little disjointed when you first saw them. Well there’s a reason for that! When Ridley Scott finished shooting, his producers wanted shots of the wilderness, but the weather and time wouldn’t allow for it. So Scott called up his buddy Stanley Kubrick, and asked if he could use some of the footage he took for The Shining. Now, he didn’t give him the exact same footage, but they are pretty close and cover the same area.
6 Kill Bill, Stole From Fists of Fury
This one is almost certainly an homage the legendary Bruce Lee and Fists of Fury. In Kill Bill, as Beatrix Kiddo is surrounded by baddies they make a circle around her, moving in and out with her motions. This is almost identical to the amazing fight scene in Fists of Fury when Bruce Lee is surrounded by his enemies. Quentin Tarantino is very open and honest about his inspirations and old Karate and Kung Fu movies are among his favorite.
5 The Untouchables, Stole From Battleship Potemkin
In the Union Station scene in The Untouchables, Elliot Ness (Kevin Costner) gets in a shootout while a mother is bringing her baby and baby carriage up the staircase, at a painful snail’s pace, too. Ness, being the kind gentlemen he is, helps the lady bring the carriage to the top step, then drops the dang carriage, just lets it go as he starts firing on innocent civilians. Alright, they were baddies, but couldn’t you have let the lady take over like she asked? This scene is a reference to the silent classic Battleship Potemkin, and the Odessa steps scene, in which a baby carriage similarly rolls down the steps as people are getting blasted everywhere.
4 Raiders of the Lost Ark, Stole From Secret of the Incas
The similarities between these two films are countless. There seems to be a lack of admission in terms of influence, on the part of Raiders of the Lost Ark, but it’s there and it’s obvious. The characters themselves are incredibly similar, from their looks, their actions and their journeys. But the one scene in particular, when Indy solves the puzzle with the staff and the light, is eerily reminiscent of when Charlton Heston solves his puzzle, with a medallion and light.
3 Lord of the Rings, Stole From The Wizard of Oz
It wouldn’t be crazy to suggest that the Frank L. Baum novel and then the subsequent film The Wizard of Oz had an influence over The Lord of Rings, both the movies and books. In fact, it would be crazy to suggest that it didn’t have an influence. But, what is very noticeable is the similarities between the two “Castle View” scenes. As Frodo, Sam and Gollum peer over a cliff's edge at the Black Gate in Two Towers, viewers are immediately brought back to Dorothy and her gang overlooking the Witch’s castle.
2 Pulp Fiction, Stole From Psycho
Quentin Tarantino is at it again, this time with a beautiful homage to the one and only Alfred Hitchcock and Psycho. Now, it may be that Tarantino never openly admitted to this tribute, but it’s so obvious he doesn’t need to. The scene when Marion Crane pulls up to a crosswalk and her boss passes by, stops and looks at her is duplicated by Butch (Bruce Willis) and Marcellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). It gets even better when Butch, rather than slowly drive off like Marion Crane does, drives right through his Marcellus, running him down in broad daylight. Just a ruthless and amazing play on the iconic scene.
1 The Shining, Stole From The Phantom Carriage
The iconic “Here’s Johnny” scene in Stanley Kubrick’s classic, The Shining, is inspired by a much earlier Swedish film, The Phantom Carriage. Not just any old film, The Phantom Carriage is considered one of the central films in Swedish film history, inspiring many films and filmmakers. In both scenes, the father/husband breaks through the locked door with an axe to get at the wife and children on the other side. Even in the silent form, the scene is terrifying, but Jack Nicholson really brings his A game, delivering one of the most incredible and recognizable performances we’ve ever seen in the movies.