Tuesday, 9 September 2008

'essentially the same'

This was on www.imdb.com today:

'Spielberg Accused Of Ripping Off Hitchcock

8 September 2008 6:35 PM, PDT

Movie mogul Steven Spielberg has been charged with stealing his Disturbia plot from Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window in a new Hollywood legal spat.

The moviemaker's DreamWorks Studio and Universal Pictures have been accused of copyright infringement by the current owners of author Cornell Woolrich's short story, which inspired Hitchcock's 1954 classic thriller.

James Stewart, who starred in that film, bought the rights to the story, Murder From a Fixed Viewpoint, and representatives at the Sheldon Abend Revocable Trust think Spielberg should have done the same before making his film, which starred Shia Labeouf.

According to the lawsuit, filed in New York, the plots of Disturbia and Rear Window are "essentially the same".

Top critics noted the similarities when Disturbia hit cinemas in 2007, with one reviewing calling Spielberg's movie "a rip-off".'

When I first saw the trailer for Disturbia I thought 'oh, it's Rear Window with teens, not a bad idea'. As it turned out, it was a terrible idea and a really awful film, mostly due to the script which stretches the first act out to an hour thinking we'd rather hang out with Shia Lebeouf and his mates than get into the story. And despite David Morse being great in everything, his character makes a really stupid mistake at the end when he's practically won. But the quality of the film is not the point here. The point is, of course it was a rip-off of Rear Window! That was obvious!

But that's all it was. It wasn't an unauthorised re-make, it wasn't a Rear Window fan film, it wasn't anything that a million other film-makers haven't already done in the past and often with better results. You know what? Reservoir Dogs is 'essentially the same' as City on Fire, but I don't think Ringo Lam ever sued Quentin Tarantino. And even though the similarities between Doomsday and Escape from New York are universally recognised I doubt anyone would call for John Carpenter to sue Neil Marshall. And what about straight-to-DVD distributors like The Asylum who even bothered to rip-off Snakes on a Plane with Snakes on a Train. Speaking of Snakes on a Plane it was preceded by Tail Sting which was practically identical only with giant scorpions, and followed by Flight of the Living Dead - zombies on a plane! I don't remember anyone getting sued.

Yes, it does annoy me sometimes when directors and producers blatantly steal ideas from other films. But even then I rarely think it calls for legal action (if you can think of any examples where that's justified please let me know). It doesn't annoy me half as much as legitimate remakes - they're the things people should be complaining about! The point is, Disturbia clearly took Rear Window as it's starting point and tried to do something different and interesting with it. It failed, miserably, but it most certainly was not 'essentially the same'. And no one deserves to get sued over it because if we start suing over things like this the whole copyright issue is just going to get more complicated and restrictive than it already is.

Sorry, I've been angry about that since lunchtime.

1 comment:

Pete Regan said...

My view point was essentially the same (ha see what I did) although I read it late at night and thought fair enough. But I guess you're right, especially if you refer back to my last post.

And what's with the word veryfication for leaving comments. zfkhhgb is not even a word. But press the disabled man button. Its thre freakiest thing I think I've ever heard.

And when did I start just blogging in your comment section.