When Does Cinematic Homage Become a Criminal Act of Thievery?


A new French spy spoof named OSS 117: Lost in Rio climaxes with a scene on top of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, an obvious homage to Hitchcock, as I was so proud to have brilliantly noticed, applause applause.

But when I asked the film’s director/co-writer Michel Hazanavicius about this at a recent event, he said, “It’s not really a tribute. It’s more like stealing!”

I loved the man’s honesty and wanted to instantly settle down and become Mrs. Hazanavicius (though part of that name–you know, vicius–might be redundant).

But then the sticky-fingered auteur thoughtfully added that the lifted idea wasn’t actually an act of gratuitous theft; it worked really well in the context of the script.

Fine with me! I won’t call the authorities!

Anyway, I think homages are terribly important to a healthy cinema. When someone recently bitched to me, “Ticked-off Trannies rips off Kill Bill,” I reminded them, “But Kill Bill was a homage/pastiche/lift-job in itself!”