26 Things That Inspired Movies
1. Did you know that the screenplay for Groundhog Day was inspired by vampires?
Danny Ruben, who wrote it, has cited his main inspiration as being Anne Rice's The Vampire Lestat, which made him think about vampires who were just like normal people except they lived forever.
2. There's a famous moment in Jurassic Park when the entire car shakes, including a glass of water, before the T-Rex shows up. Director Steven Spielberg actually came up with this idea after listening to an Earth, Wind, and Fire song in his own car.
He had his bass turned up all the way. The shaking car gave him the idea.
3. Speaking of Spielberg, let's talk about the inspiration for one of my favorite films, E.T.
The alien was designed by a special effects artist named Carlo Rambaldi. Spielberg gave him photos of Albert Einstein, Ernest Hemingway, Carl Sandberg, and some elderly people during the Great Depression.
A painting titled Women of Delta also shaped E.T.'s look, but the biggest influence on his appearance was Rambaldi's pet cat.
4. Oh yeah, one more Spielberg fact. This is more of a behind-the-scenes thing, but Spielberg and his crew nicknamed the shark in Jaws, Bruce. He was named after Spielberg's attorney, Bruce Ramer.
5. E.T. wasn't the only alien film influenced by art. The chest-burster in the 1979 movie Alien has an appearance that was inspired by a 1944 painting by Francis Bacon titled Three Studies for Figures at the Base of Crucifixion.
6. And Christopher Nolan came up with some of the ideas in Inception based on the art of M.C. Escher. You can see one of his designs while Arthur and Ariadne walk around a dream city.
The paradoxical Penrose Stairs are also used in Escher's art. Nolan even named a character Maurice Fischer, which sounds very similar to Maurits Cornelis Escher.
7. The house in the classic Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho was inspired by a painting titled House by the Railroad, which was painted by Edward Hopper in 1925.
Psycho screenwriter Joseph Stefano once said, "I told [actor Anthony Perkins] that I felt that Norman Bates, if he were a painting, would be painted by Hopper, and he agreed."
8. Similarly, director Robert Zumekis wanted the town of Greenboro, Alabama from Forrest Gump to resemble paintings by Norman Rockwell. He even recreated Rockwell paintings for certain shots.
Like when Forrest waits to see the principal of his school, the image looks almost identical to the painting Young Lady with a Shiner.
9. Christopher Nolan's brother Jonathan wrote the screenplay for The Dark Knight Rises and he said that the film was based on parts of A Tale of Two Cities. Both stories contain—spoiler—secret societies, secret identities, an orphaned woman looking for revenge, and faked deaths.
Gordon also quotes the novel in the film. There's even a character in Dark Knight Rises named Phillip Striver just like Striver in the Dickens novel.
10. The relationship between Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs was inspired by the real-life relationship Detective Robert D. Keppel had with serial killers including Ted Bundy and Gary Ridgeway.
Keppel and Bundy exchanged tons of letters while Bundy was in jail and Keppel even got Bundy to confess to more crimes. The Silence of the Lambs was actually a book first, for the record.
11. And another famous movie character inspired by a real person—The Dude in The Big Lebowski. The Coen Brothers met a film producer named Jeff Dowd while trying to distribute their film Blood Simple.
They also got story inspiration from another real-life person, a script consultant named Peter Exline.
12. A very different real man who inspired a movie is a Mexican priest with a stage name Fray Tormenta. In 1973, he started doing lucha libre wrestling in order to financially support a local orphanage.
He retired in 2011, and from that amazing true story, we got the mediocre Jack Black movie Nacho Libre.
13. A few popular films were inspired by lesser known anime movies. Like it's believed that Darren Aronofsky got a lot ideas for Black Swan from the anime Perfect Blue.
He claims that he didn't borrow from it, but there are exact shots in both that are identical. Plus, both films feature an intense mother character and a frightening doppelganger.
14. The Wachowskis, on the other hand, acknowledge The Matrix was influenced by anime. To sell the film, they even showed Ghost in the Shell to producer Joel Silver and said they wanted to make it with real people, specifically Keanu Reeves.
15. Speaking of classic action films, The Fast and the Furious started with a magazine article. That just makes perfect sense. In 1998, Vibe magazine published a piece called "Racer X" by Kenneth Lee about illegal street racing in New York. Director Rob Cohen heard about it and was inspired to make the first film.
16. A Nightmare on Elm Street was also inspired by an article. During the late 1980s, the LA Times published a series of pieces about mysterious deaths among immigrants from Southeast Asia.
Allegedly, young men were dying in the middle of the night due to nightmares. This was how Wes Craven got the idea for the famous horror franchise.
17. Sometimes inspiration can come from someone's own family. Dan Aykroyd has spiritualists in his family, which is part of the reason why he wrote Ghostbusters.
His great grandfather was a renowned spiritualist. Aykroyd's father and grandfather had other jobs, but they maintained an interest in the paranormal, which got passed down to Dan.
18. And another ghost movie, The Sixth Sense, was inspired by the director's family. M. Night Shyamalan does a cameo in this film as a doctor. He did that as an homage to his family because a lot of them are physicians.
19. Moving on to a famous movie moment whose influences are debated: the scene in Pulp Fiction where Uma Thurman's character tells John Travolta, "Don't be a" and then draws an invisible square with her hands, which appears on the screen in the form of dots.
We're not sure exactly where Tarantino got the idea for this moment, but it was a popular trope in TV and film at the time. Before Pulp Fiction came out, it appeared in The Flintstones, The Muppets, and Loony Tunes cartoons.
20. There's also a moment in Pulp Fiction that you might think is inspired by the Bible, but you would be wrong. Samuel L. Jackson's character quotes Ezekiel 25:17 before killing someone, but what Jackson says isn't anything like the actual Bible verse. That's because it's actually a quote from a 1976 film titled The Bodyguard, which also referred to it as Ezekiel 25:17.
21. Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey is another movie inspired by movies. It's believed that Kubrick watched pretty much every space movie he could get his hands on before making this film, and critics have noticed many similarities between his finished film and the 1960 documentary Universe.
He even tried to hire one of its directors, who turned down the job. Special effects artists on Universe did work on 2001, though, and the narrator of the documentary, Douglas Rain, was the voice of HAL.
22. For The Shining, Kubrick also got inspiration from another movie. In the 1921 film The Phantom Carriage there's a scene where a door gets broken down by an ax-wielding person. There's no doubt this influenced Kubrick.
23. There's a huge estate in Villanova, Pennsylvania known as the Ardrossan Estate, and a famous family lived there in the early 1900s. The 360-acre property and the daughter of the family, Helen Hope, inspired playwright Phillip Barry to write The Philadelphia Story. And that eventually became a film.
It's said that Hope once received four marriage proposals in a single day, which may sound familiar to you if you've seen the movie.
24. Another film inspired by a mansion is the classic Disney movie Beauty & The Beast. The film's animators based the Beast's castle on one in France called the Chateau de Chambord.
25. Pixar animators also took inspiration from real-life locations while designing the school in Monsters' University. They visited UC Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, and MIT.
You can definitely see the parallels in the finished product, too, like Troll Bridge resembles the bridge at Harvard that goes over the Charles River. There are archways in the outdoor areas that look a lot like the ones on Stanford's campus. And the amphitheater is reminiscent of the one at Berkeley.
26. Finally, the Millennium Falcon was created as an emergency. The original design of the spaceship was dropped because it was too similar to the spaceship from the movie Space: 1999.
George Lucas told the designers to make a completely different ship, and he didn't care if it looked like a flying saucer, so that's what they did.