Parody and the gas station in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

Avital G. Cykman


Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 film, William Shakespeare'sRomeo and Juliet, is a pop-culture adaptation of the late sixteenth-century play. 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.


Shakespeare; Film Adaptation; Parody; Luhrmann; Postmodernism

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