There has been some interesting dialouge in the Kill Bill threads concerning the director's films, and the borrowing/homage/outright theft within them. It raises a bunch of very cool questions over the value of originality, the creative process, and the difference between plagiarism and inspiration. To get the ball rolling, I'll throw out a name thats been tossed back and forth, but feel welcome to bring Tarentino or the matrix, or whatever else into the discussion.
Pablo Picasso is probably the best known artist of the past couple of hundred years. He is regarded, within and outside of art circles, as a master, and a genius. However, nothing he did was particularly original. analytical cubism was pioneered by his studiomate Braque. Synthetic cubism, his collages involving newsprint and wood, were inspired by the dress patterns of his seamstress lover. His early early sculptural technique borrows heavily from the soft, dapples surfaces of Rodin. His Surrealist work, though ultimately a product of Freudian psychoanalysis, is more directly inspired by the sculpture of Umberto Giacometti and Hans Belmer. He was the first artist to work directly with welded metal, though this technique was introduced to him by a layman metalworker. In the 30s and 40s, there was a revival of interest in Henri matisse, and surely enough, Picasso's work began to reflect the tropical colors, and humanist themes of matisses work. His figure rendering reflects an interest in pre-roman, Iberian sculpture.
Still, though all this, picasso is lauded as "an original" and "a genius". His true genius is in his appropriation, and excellent execution of, existing styles and techniques. He is, IMO, and extreme example of what the creative process is for any artist, in any field, be it music, painting, architecture, or film. There are more original artists, better artists, from his time period, though one would be hard pressed to find one more widely known and praised.
Souny asked "where is Picasso", in regards to the wide cinematic heritage of reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and Kill Bill. My response would be, " You're looking right at him." I think all products need to be examined at face value, in a cultural vacuum, at least part of the time; Though the real joy is in looking through an artist's work into his pedigree. If I begin to resent a film maker, or any other artist of taking credit for another's idea, I remind myself that if I recognize it, the artist recognizes it, and the critics recognize it, then its out in the open.