There are artists who say that there are no truly original ideas, that every work of art is influenced by something else, consciously or not. But the author of a book on the Balkan conflict of the 1990s isn’t taking that viewpoint with his copyright infringement lawsuit against Angelina Jolie.
The author claims Jolie stole liberally from his book in her directorial debut, “The Land of Blood and Honey.” He’s suing Jolie and the producer of the film, saying they infringed on the copyright of his book “The Soul Shattering.” Both the film and the book take place in Bosnia and Herzegovina and portray a woman who is imprisoned and raped by soldiers before a Serbian camp commander falls in love with her and helps her escape. Jolie has dismissed the lawsuit, saying she’s never read the book and that such similarities happen with every film. She calls her movie “a combination of many people’s stories,” having been influenced by several different books and documentaries.
But the book’s author says he met with one of the film’s producers several times about adapting the book into a movie, keeping in touch over the next two years about the project. He said he was surprised to see Jolie working on a movie with such similar subject matter without being asked for approval.
The lawsuit isn’t expected to delay the release of the film, set for Dec. 23. The author did move for a temporary restraining order, but withdrew after the film’s distribution company convinced a judge that there were problems with the motion.
The issue raises the question of how similar story ideas have to be in order to be considered “stolen.” If the author is ultimately successful in his lawsuit, it could set a precedent for Hollywood that would stop or slow production of countless films.
Source: The Guardian, “Angelina Jolie dismisses lawsuit against the Land of Blood and Honey,” Ben Child, Dec. 7, 2011