Everyday Semiotics

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Transposition

So someone has translated "The Big Lebowski" into iambic pentameter and retitled it "Two Gentlemen of Lebowski" (after Shakespeare's "Two Gentlemen of Verona").

DONALD
Wherefore thou playest not at ninepins on Saturday, Sir Walter?

WALTER
On our most holy Sabbath I am sworn
To keep tradition, form and ceremony.
The seventh and the last day rests the Jew;
I labour not, nor ride in chariot,
Nor handle gold, nor even play the cook,
And sure as Providence I do not roll.
Hath not a Jew rights? Hath not a Jew hands,
Organs, bowling-balls, Pomeranians?
If you schedule us, must you not do right?
If we step o’er the line, do we not mark it nought?
The Sabbath; I’ll roll not, God-a-mercy.

Which reminded me of such adaptations as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.

The recycling of old material to make new art is not new; and neither is the production of new art that resembles old art. This type of "mashup" is both of these things and something more. It is recycling and mimicry for comic effect yet done with estimable skill that reveres both of its sources while rendering both ridiculous.

Shakespeare certainly could have written a Lebowski story in his day. And Jane Austen, if she were writing today in the shadow of Stephenie Meyer, would no doubt be tempted to throw in a dash of the supernatural.

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