Don’t paraphrase Faulkner in your movie without permission. Sony is learning that lesson the hard way, by facing a lawsuit over a Faulkner quote in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the owners to the rights to William Faulkner’s work are suing Sony Pictures Classics over a two-sentence quote paraphrased by Owen Wilson in last year’s hit comedy.
In the film, Wilson says, “The past is not dead! Actually, it’s not even past. You know who said that? Faulkner. And he was right.”
The actual quote, from Requiem for a Nun, is: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
It’s only a paraphrase, and credit is given to the iconic author, but that seems to be where the problem lies. The lawsuit claims the line is confusing, because Faulkner is misquoted yet given attribution. The suit also argues that there is an implication that Sony and Faulkner have some affiliation.
A Sony rep called the suit “frivolous.”
The film focuses on an idealistic American writer (Wilson) who, while vacationing in Paris, travels back in time to the Jazz Age and hobnobs with literary geniuses like Fitzgerald, Hemingway and — yes — Faulkner.
Maybe the Faulkner camp took a similar trip back in time to ask the author what he thought, and Faulkner wasn’t pleased. Too much of a stretch?