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A review on the movie version of romeo and juliet by william shakespeare

The cross-references and transgression of allusions and their postmodern subversive statement along with the extreme intensity with which these elements appear in act one, scene one, and especially in the scene placed at a gas station produce a self-directed irony, a cutting-edge, if playful combination of references that define it as parody in the postmodern sense. Hence, this article examines act one, scene one with a special attention to the gas station sequence, and analyzes it in the light of scholarly definitions of postmodern parody by Linda Hutcheon, John W.

Duvall and Douglas Lanier, and of pastiche by Fredric Jameson. Once the hypothesis of parody is established, the article analyzes what the film parodies and in what ways, and what the objective and the impact of the applied humor are. The film displays self-conscious, self-contradictory statements through historical representations lifted out of their initial context and placed in a pop-inspired reality along with cultural allusions to a variety of periods, and transient film genres, elements that constitute a postmodern art endeavor fitting within the definition of postmodernism developed by postmodern philosophers such as Linda Hutcheon.

By adapting a historical play with pop culture cinematic tools, Luhrmann offers a new set of references to the public.

This type of adaptation is seen with a varied degree of approval. One of the most disapproving theorists is probably Fredric Jamesonwho argues in an analysis of historical novels: However, Hutcheon, Douglas Lanier and John Duvall see it in a different manner, or rather, as means to accomplish cultural and social goals. Accordingly, the director says in an interview to the Guardian: The idea was to find icons that everybody comprehends, that are overtly clear.

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The hope was that by associating the characters and places with those images the language would be freed from its cage of obscurity. WEB Notably, despite these modern-day expressions, Luhrmann has made minimal modifications in the original text, or rather, in the text as it appears in the Arden edition. Parody subverts the original text by applying to it an interpretation full of color, ado, and speed.

It introduces a provocative response to the traditional values accompanying canonical plays and their traditionally rigid production. It also opens room to reconsider pop culture icons, as the appearance implies irony toward simplistic representations. Self-irony and criticism such as the latter is a part of the process of deconstruction explored and developed in postmodern theory.

Hence, the article examines act one, scene one with special attention to the Gas Station Sequence, and analyzes it in the light of scholarly definitions of postmodern parody by Linda Hutcheon, John W.

Duvall, and Douglas Lanier, and of pastiche by Fredric Jameson. Once the hypothesis of parody is established, I analyze its subjects, objectives and impact. Shakespeare's plays touched everyone from the street sweeper to the Queen of England.

With this goal in mind, the director sets out to surprise and hook the viewers with choices taken from their own culture. A TV set with changing channels constitutes the first image of the film.

An anchorwoman appears and transmits the prologue as a news bulletin. As soon as the movie begins, it becomes clear that it is not a traditional version of Romeo and Juliet, but a rather provocative one. The director ironically abuses the conventions regarding the Elizabethan way by which he could have tackled Romeo and Juliet, and the genre of film that is traditionally tending toward a historical production.

This process of misappropriation of historical representations plays with expectations and conventions, and cracks the well-known history-culture construction of canonical works. The surprise evokes a smile, a reaction the director welcomes, as he clarifies in an interview with Geoff Andrew from the Guardian: It requires this idea of comic tragedy.

  • Even then, it struck me as a beautiful tragedy that was truly transcendent, not just because it eulogized young love, but also because the mere countenance of Romeo and Juliet satirized that universal moment so well;
  • The fight itself is impossible;
  • With this goal in mind, the director sets out to surprise and hook the viewers with choices taken from their own culture;
  • Duvall and Douglas Lanier, and of pastiche by Fredric Jameson;
  • Rather than having his characters speak the prose that audiences have applauded for over 400 years, his screenplay throws in the towel of converting its target audience, and only gives them the Spark Notes version where the most famous lines are uttered, but huge swaths of dialogue reside in abridging the context for the audience.

Could you make those switches? Fine in Shakespeare - low comedy and then you die in five minutes. Where they were aware at all times that they were watching a movie, and that they should be active in their experience and not passive.

Not being put into a sort of sleep state and made to believe through a set of constructs that they are watching a real-life story through a key-hole. The changed scene opens with a speeding dark sedan, its windows tinted gold, almost running into a pickup truck on Verona Beach highway. The following line from the original transcript illustrates the similarity to action movie: The truck turns sharply, screeching, into a busy driveway of a gas station, where the camera closes on the boasting Gregory and Sampson, and the disgusted Benvolio, who is driving the approaching sedan.

A series of close ups shows the tense facial expressions of boys from both groups, followed by shots of a rearview mirror, and of Sampson biting his thumb. The sedan reverses in full speed and blocks the truck, as a panicked mother and her children scurry away. With a cigarette clenched between his teeth, Tybalt points a pistol at Benvolio.

The conflict escalates into a battle. Critic Richard Gyde from Shakespeare Online describes it well: The occasional slow-motion shot makes their moves seem balletic a reference, perhaps, to West Side Story? The fight itself is impossible: WEB The scene ends with fire and mayhem. Luhrmann comments on the scene in the aforementioned interview for the Guardian: What if we dealt with it like a spaghetti western?

You get close ups and you get the language vernacular of that.

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The idea of that is to help the very fast gear changes you need to do. Afterwards, the director begins slowing and mellowing the style, opening space for romance. Due to the change in style toward the next sequence of the movie, the sense of postmodern ambiguity, found in the contradiction of poetic lines and Western movies, for example, rises and then weakens once the lovers meet.

In fact, the Gas Station Sequence is the one part of the film to which the definitions of parody apply rather fully. However, Jameson would have most likely defined this part as pastiche, and would have been convincing enough, thanks to the exhilarating mess of styles and genres, symbols and images.

Notwithstanding, the components of parody mentioned by the other discussed theorists weigh in the analysis differently. Firstly, I will lay down a necessary if short overview of the definitions of parody.

Parody There is a historical and substantial connection between the roots of parody and the current meanings of the term. At the time, Aristotle crowned the poet and playwright Thasian as the inventor of parodies ii, 5.

For the scope of this article, I will extend his inclusion of the existent forms of arts of his days to all the forms of arts in current days. Until the eighteenth century, parodies imitated a serious and even heroic style in order to mock and ridicule. Back to history, the following change in the definition of parody came from Jonathan Swift and provoked a scholarly debate regarding its meaning. In A Tale of a Tub Swift writes that a parody is an imitation of an author one wishes to expose.

Either way, his definition changed the popular concept of parody to any comic imitation aspiring to expose and ridicule. Fundamentally, imitation has remained the common element in parody from 350 B.

E to our days. Hutcheon, for instance, claims that in this postmodern age, parodies are never made to ridicule what they imitate. They introduce a transgression of elements from different periods and cultures for the sake of play and not in order to criticize. Still, she indicates that parodies can make a social criticism of representations, and cites the painter Burgin to demonstrate it.

According to him, the parody created by lifting classic art out of its original context of art history aids in throwing off the dead end of art history and its belief in eternal values while still maintaining the richness and density of the original 103.

Hutcheon adds that postmodern parody does not try to offer dialectic resolution or recuperative evasion of contradiction in narrative fiction, photography, or film 107. Basically, Jameson denies the existence of parody in postmodern artistic expressions, since, in his opinion, the imitations lack intertextuality, self-reflexivity, political or historical content or humor.

In reply to Jameson, Hutcheon distinguishes between parody and pastiche, and argues that the duplicity of politics of authorized transgression, necessary in parody, remains intact. John Duvall, who has studied the theories of both, sees the origin of the differences in the disciplines from which the scholars elaborated their theories.

The TV sequence, for instance, parades a large range of pop allusions that result in a comic effect. However, it does not contain a genre transgression, or rather a cross-reference between genres, the way the Gas Station Sequence does. As seen earlier, the director has proclaimed his intent to transfer the characters to current days without changing their characteristics. However, the Gas Station Sequence stretches this intention to its limit, since the symbols of Western and Action movies add irony and distance from the exquisite language.

Furthermore, even when an adaptation includes cross-cultural references, generating a comic effect, the agreement to what extent the adaptation is parody is still put into question.

A part of the controversy, I will briefly observe, is the question of what constitutes an original text, what is the meaning of integrity in relation to adaptation of historical texts, and whether postmodern parody can be seen seriously.

In response to the latter, an intention to adapt Shakespearean plays for current audiences does not interfere with the definition or presence of parody. It is rather irrelevant, in fact. Parody does not mean sulking disrespectfully usuallyas it does not necessarily mock the adapted text or work. Parody acts through irony and provocation, without disqualifying completely its cultural references.

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As a result, the lack of correlation between the Shakespearean language and the people of Verona Beach provokes a comic effect and constitutes parody.

Notably, the whole act may be considered parody according to the postmodern concept introduced by Hutcheon, but the Gas Station Sequence displays more variables of postmodern parody than the rest of the act. Beyond the above mentioned components, the cross-reference and cross-genre are speedy and surprising.

In an adamant argument, Duvall states that if the narrative stays within the same genre, literary or filmic history, it is not parody. Hutcheon, on her part, does not include a cross-genre among the basic constructs of parody, but she acknowledges in her analysis of parody and postmodernism that crisscross representations inscribe and subvert dominant ideologies. Either way, the Gas Station Sequence and the film as a whole display much of cross-genre.

Scriptwriter Pearce describes it: In this regard, it should also be noted that, according to Duvall, mere historiographic metafiction does not constitute postmodern parody since it lacks the impossibility of impacting the public. Only a very limited number of viewers are able to perceive such references.

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He also mentions that this is a determiner according to Fredric Jameson 13. Hutcheon, too, rejects the inclusion of sophisticated references in parody, emphasizing the necessity of transparence and effect. This question of accessibility is undeniably part of the politics of postmodern representation. This variable appears to contradict, or at least limit, her inclusive definition of parody.

It demands a definition of what is elitist in each point of time and every location the film goes through, an extremely transitory and limiting classification of parody. However, the Gas Station Sequence includes such a rich variety of genres and cultural references, and so many allusions to popular culture at the time the film comes out, that the concept of historiographic metafiction is hardly wide enough to define it. What This Parody Parodies After establishing the presence of parody, the question what the sequence is parodying is not easily answered, despite the sense of wild disruption between traditional productions and this one, with its pop treatment of postmodern fluidity and ambivalence, pattern-breaking attitudes and humorous effect.

In this case, turning to the questions Lanier introduces in relation to contemporary Shakespearean parodies helps determine the object of parody in the Gas Station Sequence and beyond. For instance, Lanier suggests checking whether the parody mocks the possibility of pop culture to tackle a play by Shakespeare 177.