If there is one filmmaker out there who doesn't need to plagiarize, it is Jim Jarmusch. For the past twenty years he has been making some of the most original films in America. Partially his work is too simple to be a copy, but mostly it is too concerned with style over script to necessitate his ripping someone off. In the world of screenwriting, though, there is always that someone who thought up an idea first, before that other person who managed to make the idea into a film. In the latest case, Jarmusch is being accused of plagiarizing his latest film Broken Flowers. Reed Martin, a freelance journalist and professor of film marketing at NYU, says that his own script, "Heart Copy" (formerly "Two Weeks Off") is similar right down to Jessica Lange's animal communicator character and the pink envelope catalyst. Further cause for him to think that his work became Broken Flowers is Martin's claim that his agent, Glenn Rigberg, gave copies of the script to Julie Delpy and Sharon Stone (both actresses appear in the film) and Focus Features co-president David Linde. His lawsuit against Jarmusch, Vivendi Universal Entertainment, Focus Features and Rigberg, was filed in March. He is seeking $40 million, the film's theatrical gross.
The thing about Broken Flowers is that some of its themes have to do with coincidence and the abstract connections that our minds are prone to make. I haven't seen Martin's script so I won't assume that his accusation is based entirely on the brain's tendency to make associations seem more significant than they truly are, but I think the chance of this is high.
In his defense, Jarmusch wrote in an email to the Boston Globe, "I had never had any contact with him or his work. I'd never even heard of him. I still haven't seen the work he claims I copied. Anyone who is familiar with my films and my writing process will know that his claim is ridiculous."