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Triangulos
12-21-2007, 03:48 PM
If I write a humorous story which briefly recreates an iconic film moment (such as the motorcycle chase in The Great Escape or Ursula Andress rising out of the waves in Dr No) am I right in thinking there's no copyright worries whatsoever there? I'm thinking of just making a 'nod' to those instantly recognisable scenes in a way which makes readers go "Aha, I see what he's done there", but otherwise doesn't take anything else from the films.

Thanks,

T.

megan_d
12-21-2007, 05:08 PM
You say they're instantly recognisable but both of those scenes would be lost on me. I've never even heard of Dr No! You have to be careful "in-jokes" like this, because you run the risk of alienating parts of your audience. And if part of your plot hinges of the reader's understanding of the scene...

Ageless Stranger
12-21-2007, 05:32 PM
You're absolutely safe and it has been done in the past to hilarious effect-check out the city watch series by Terry P, there's a few brilliant references to dirty Harry in Guards!Guards!

L M Ashton
12-21-2007, 06:05 PM
Just to offer a dissenting opinion, both of those scenes are instantly recognizable to me. Perhaps it's an age/generation thing? Part of the whole "know your audience" bit...

jchines
12-21-2007, 08:08 PM
I've done it a few times with Lord of the Rings scenes. Like folks said, you should be safe, but also make sure that readers who don't catch the joke won't be confused by the scene.

Triangulos
12-22-2007, 02:52 PM
Thanks all - looks like I'm safe, that's the answer I was hoping for.

T.

Triangulos
12-22-2007, 03:20 PM
You say they're instantly recognisable but both of those scenes would be lost on me. I've never even heard of Dr No! You have to be careful "in-jokes" like this, because you run the risk of alienating parts of your audience. And if part of your plot hinges of the reader's understanding of the scene...

Dr No was the first Bond film, early 60s I think (with the world's first Bond girl looking pretty racy for the time as she made her entrance out of the sea), and the Great Escape is a WWII POW escape film starring Steve McQueen, also from the 60s. You're right to be wary of alienating people - the references I'm making aren't vital to the story so if they go over people's heads then it won't spoil their understanding. Hopefully those who do get it will raise a smile and read on. :)

T.

Evaine
12-22-2007, 03:20 PM
Mentioning the Great Escape motorcycle scene reminded me of the comedy programme Goodness Gracious Me!, which is written and performed by Asian comedians. They did the Steve McQueen bit in a bicycle rickshaw!
Very, very funny, and no copyright problems I'm aware of.

Stormhawk
12-25-2007, 06:11 AM
Just think of it this way: if they don't recognise it, they're going to think it's original and praise you for it. ^_^

I once wrote in a scene that was a reference (ok, fine it was a ripoff) of the "running and hiding in a bookstore" scene from The Neverending Story. No one recognised it. What's familiar to you isn't necessarily familiar to someone else.

johnrobison
12-25-2007, 04:22 PM
In Look Me in the Eye, I make reference to many past events, such as happenings at rock concerts. I'm aware that many readers will not have personal recollection of a KISS concert in 1979, but my story about the show may well lead someone to learn more about it and thereby expand my story beyond the book itself.

Letters from readers suggest that's true for them, too.

Based upon that, I think this: If I referenced an obscure movie, some readers would get it. Some would research it and then get it. Some would pass it by.

There's no harm in any of those things.

lfraser
12-26-2007, 12:43 AM
If you do it well, it can be hilarious. An earlier poster mentioned Terry Pratchett. His Discworld series is liberally peppered with sly references to iconic film and literature moments. Shakespeare and Tolkien, Dirty Harry...the list goes on and on. Nothing is sacred. And it's very, very funny.