varnachitram

A Blog on Cinema

Our Own “Bourne Tarantino” – Part 2

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(As a response to James’ post on Amal Neerad, reader Vinod had the following response – Ed)

“This man is a creative genius, the ONLY film that was adapted (from a novel) was Jackie Brown. Everything else was created by this guy from scratch.

Well, when you make authoritative statements like this, I wish the author could do some background check or else, put the statement more mildly. Let me elaborate:

There is a hong kong movie called ‘City on Fire’. If you can get to watch it, please do… and then, you can watch ‘Reservoir Dogs’. Tell me whether they are similar or not. And if you really have an eye and ear for details and enough patience.. Check : this link out Agreed, RD has many other good scenes as well.. Now you may watch the movie “The Killing” by Stanley Kuberick. Any similarities? Even the color-coded men is an idea lifted from the original “Taking of Pelham 123”. Remember the infamous ear-cutting scene..? That was a lift-off from an Italian movie called “Django”

Further down, Pulp fiction which was hailed as having the most intelligent writing had most of its key dialogues lifted from several other works like the Japanese movie ‘Karate Kiba / Bodyguard’ : Again, watch this: The opening and closing scene of Pulp fiction is ‘inspired’ from those in Don Siegel’s “The Killers”

Again, I hope you have seen Kill Bill, or at least read about them.. Now read this link from the Wikipedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Snowblood This is about a manga or Japanese Comic series which was also made into a movie much before Kill Bill. Do you see any similarities..???? Now remember the long monologue at the end of Kill-bill 2. That is almost a word-by-word rip-off from a 1965 book “the great comic book heroes”

The plot of ‘True Romance’ is almost same as that of Terrence Malick’s ‘Badlands’ Don’t you think the above covers a large area of Tarantino’s body of work…?

So, please restrain from obsessive criticism without verifying the supporting facts. Criticism based on perception and opinion can be put forward simply as those.. You dont have to give facts and make comparisons without verification. I wonder why people esp Malayalees are too fascinated about criticizing and finding out the flaws of their fellowmen.

I really appreciate the quality of content in VC and up to a large extent, their intent too.. but I believe that VC also falls under the same category; biased towards criticising and finger-pointing. (Well going by the fact that I’m a malayalee too, this comment cements my theory)

Finally, I do not personally consider that copying is a bad thing to do. Most of Tarantino’s creations are better than the original ones. More importantly, even when not, he has opened up the original to a wider audience. Let me put it in this way: How many of us Malayalees would have seen “one flew over the cuckoos nest” and how many “thalavattam”. A good story deserves to be retold for various obvious reasons. Artists recreate original creations..That is also a perspective at least some of us could adopt.

Now, when it comes to recognizing such inspired material, like in the case of awards, a distinction needs to be followed. Have we ever wondered why there is an ‘best original screenplay’ and ‘best adapted screenplay’ award for the Oscars..?

There is further scope in copying and adaptation too.. for, e.g., as an aspiring screenplay writer, one of my wishes is to remake (rewrite) a cult movie, even from Malayalam, but take it to a different path from some key point, say interval… or may be present it in a different way.. (Remember the sequence of events in Reservoir Dogs which made it different from a normal heist genre movie).

11 Comments

  1. I already said:

    His films are clearly influenced of the B-movies of the 1970s. He paid homage to the crime films with Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, to novelist Elmore Leonard with Jackie Brown, to Hong Kong action, Samurai “chambara”, and spaghetti western, with the Kill Bill volumes, to exploitation films with Death Proof (part of Grindhouse), and to the spaghetti western with Inglourious Basterds. Although he works in genre movies, he creates his own stuff from his influences and transcends the limits of the genre. This man is a creative genius, the only film that was adapted (from a novel) was Jackie Brown. Everything else was created by this guy from scratch.

    I did mention that he has INFLUENCES.

    But he doesn’t make the same thing again. He makes some thing unique through his influences. And that’s a Tarantino film.

    When I mentioned about Amal Neerad’s scene from the Bourne film, MY MAIN POINT was not about COPYING. But about the fact that how badly it was done.

  2. Any one can remake. But what is the real point of a remake? One is to bring forth a film from one language to another. And another is to bring forth a film from a different period to contemporary times.

    Now for most people, the original film is always better. Because they are seeing the same thing over gain in the remakes. And usually they are poorly done.

    Tarantino has his influences, but he does not remake it in that sense. He gives a touch of his own.

    Priyadarshan remade Ramji Rao Speaking into Hera Pheri. For every one who has seen both films will see that its the same film. Now that’s a remake.

    Tarantino did say City of Fire was an influence on Reservoir Dogs (every one is influenced and inspiration is a good thing). But both those films are different films. Tarantino has created some thing that is his own.

  3. James,
    I agree with most of your points. But I had strong differences of opinion with some of your statements; mainly the one (‘Tarantino makes movies from scratch’) that I referred in my comment. Now again, I beg to disagree from your responses and I want to put those up here – more than it is for an argument’s sake, it is for making some statements which I believe is important for movie-lovers to consider, let alone accept.

    Let me give you my idea on what a ‘homage’ is: sometimes a director uses ideas, or techniques of other and pay a tribute. Now. most often, it is referred in the very movie or at least by public declarations. There are so many examples from Hollywood movies but let’s take some from India: There is a beautifully made 2007 Hindi movie called Johny Gaddaar starring Neil Mukesh, Dharmendra, Vinay Pathak etc. It was a homage to Hindi director Vijay Anand and to novelist James Hadley Chase. Vijay Anand for his contributions to Hindi noir genre, which this movie also falls into. Vijay Anand’s ‘Johny Mera Naam’ is shown to be watched by a character in the movie and it is from this that the movie gets the Johny word for the title. (How it gets appended with the name ‘Gaddaar’ has a beautiful explanation that you need to see the movie to understand). The film also follows the style followed by James Hadley Chase in his novels. In the movie, the hero is shown as reading James Hadley novel in the initial scenes. What more, at the beginning of the movie, the makers pay tributes to Vijay Anand and James Hadley Chas; yet none of Vijay’s movies or James’ novels or scenes/plot from it are directly used in JG. I have since then found a small resemblance of a key scene in an old French movie but not that big enough to be mentioned. Now, that is a homage.

    Coming to Malayalam; most of us have seen ‘Vellanakalude Naadu’. I don’t know if it surprises anyone that it is a Lal-Priyan movie which came out in the same year (or 1 yr diff) as Chitram and Vandanam. This movie is more similar to Sathyan Anthikadu-Lal movies like Gandhi Nagar 2nd street and TP Balagopalan MA. And as Priyan said in an interview, it is a homage to Sathyan-Lal movies. The movie also redelivers the immortal “Thamarassery choram..” lines from Sathyan’s TP Balagopalan MA (delivered by Kuthiravattom Pappu in both the movies but in different contexts and as different characters).

    The influences and rip-offs in Tarantino movies are much more to be called as mere homage, and even if you have a different opinion on homages, you certainly cannot call it as ‘from scratch’ as you mentioned in your article. That is my point. Also, Tarantino did not accept that he has lifted some parts of the plot of RD from City on Fire. In fact what he said (on record with ‘The Guardian’ and others, you can check it out) was “I am dying to see the Hong Kong movie”. Years later, he told that he loved that movie but still not referring to the plot lift.

    Your main point was not COPYING, I agreed. Then why did I write about it? That was because you wrote thus: “Good film makers create original visuals, the others copy without giving credit” and then you set Tarantino as someone who did only original stuff.

    “anyone can make remakes.. what is the real point..?” and then example of Ramji Rao and hera pheri: Yes agreed, people who have seen both will feel the original is better. But there is really a point. We are a small state with much lesser movie audience in comparison to the Hind movie audience. And out of that, how many do you think would have seen both..? The number of people who have seen ‘both’ is maybe 1% of those who have watched ‘hera pheri’ alone and loved it. Don’t you think that’s a good enough reason for a remake..? I stay in Delhi and I know how much the so-called ‘North Indians’ love hera pheri.. Even today, they refer to the scenes from it often in day-to-day conversations. And I feel proud when they do that because it is originally from Malayalam. There is no point in me making a statement there that it is a lift-off from Malayalam and that it was much better. Well, do you think that they would bother..???

  4. “The influences and rip-offs in Tarantino movies are much more to be called as mere homage, and even if you have a different opinion on homages, you certainly cannot call it as ‘from scratch’ as you mentioned in your article.”

    Ok. I guess calling that from “scratch” wasn’t exactly the right word. But look at it this way, if Priyadarshan was dead some one else woulh have still remade those films in Hindi. If Tarantino was dead, we would have never gotten such Tarantino films.

    City of Fire and RD are completely different films even though they share similarities in plot. The fact is there are only some many or so plots around. Like maybe around 32 or so. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eMvSjDZYb4 (4:40) I heard George Lucas mention this in an interview. If you look at it that way James Cameron’s Avatar and Siddique-Lal’s Vietnam Colony are pretty much similar.

  5. PS Johnny Gaddaar was an excellent film.

  6. In an interview with Film Threat magazine, QT did mention the following: “City of Fire is a great film. I have the poster for it on my wall … City on Fire was a totally influential film allright … great directors don’t do homages, they steal. Allright? I steal from every single movie ever made. If you don’t like it, tough titty”

    A bigger “steal” would be from the Sam Fuller film House of Bamboo. And there are so many other films as well.

  7. “..But look at it this way, if Priyadarshan was dead some one else woulh have still remade those films in Hindi. If Tarantino was dead, we would have never gotten such Tarantino films.”

    Bang on target!

  8. James,
    Did I say Tarantino made inferior movies..? No
    Did I say anyone could have made movies like Tarantino did..? No
    Did I accuse Tarantino of not accepting that he had made some direct lift-offs which are more than mere homage/tribute? Yes
    Did I say all you said was wrong? No

    I said you were wrong when you said ‘Tarantino did his movies from scratch’
    I said I had a different view on copying in that it could have its own justifications EVEN if it was a blatant, scene-to-scene copy.
    I also felt that you missed some valid perspectives when you were speaking low of remakes based merely on the views of those who have watched both versions.

    One of the key points I wanted to make (may be it was not clearly communicated) was that copying or not copying visuals, ideas, plots or any such thing is not the sole criteria of deciding whether a film-maker is good or bad. Also, the greatness of Tarantino has less to do with whether he has copied from stuff or not,

    Tell you what..! There is one key learning from this conversation. You may be able to suppress them, but it is almost impossible to change people’s perceptions and prejudices. You can look it either way.. Me to you or You to me 🙂

  9. This was an interesting discussion, and when its a subjective field such as this (cinema) its obvious that we all will have varying opinions.

    I do get your point regarding the “from scratch” part. If it wasn’t for the previous films and novels existence, Tarantino wouldn’t have been able to make his films. True I agree with that. But then again who else hasn’t made something that is influenced from something before?

    My main point when I said the “from scratch” thing was – He was able to create some thing so fresh and unique (with of course those influences).

    Hopefully, I hope you agree with me in my opinion that Amal Neerad sucks really bad.

  10. “Hopefully, I hope you agree with me in my opinion that Amal Neerad sucks really bad.”

    Well, truth be told, I liked BigB. I generally like stylish&slick movies and Mammootty is a favourite. So I loved the movie and it was kind-of-refreshing to see such a movie in Malayalam at that time. I have seen Four brothers as well. Even though the scenes and sequences are very much in sync, BigB was more pepped up. I felt Mammootty did a very good job, also in the sense that his mannerisms and persona was put across very different from how Mark Wahlberg did in the original. I thought it was a great effort from his side: it was not a plain imitation but a much varied presentation. And the movie had a very good casting. Nafisa Ali was really graceful which was what the role demanded the most and Bala is yet to do a better performance till date. Also, all-in-all it was a well-directed movie.

    Unfortunately or fortunately I have not seen SAJ and Anwar. Well, even if I have… Don’t you agree that as an aspiring screenwriter, it is always better for me to reserve some comments ;)? See, I have already started preparing for the interviews (Kiran, Asianet and the likes)

  11. Speaking about BigB, yes I agree Mammootty’s performance was pretty good. Though I’m not a big fan of Four Brothers. And that must have been why I wasn’t too impressed with BigB. But I agree, Amal Neerad gives a different style to his remake. SAJ was unbearable. And I haven’t seen Anwar, though looking at the trailers I’m not too interested.

    Good luck with your screenwriting career. 🙂

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