The Dude Meets the Bard

January 22, 2010

"Two Gentlemen of Lebowski"

For some they are delicious literary treats akin to the chocolate and peanut buttery combo that made Reese’s famous.  For others they are as unappealing as a handful of nuts and gum.  Whatever your reading tastes, however, it is impossible to deny the raging popularity of “literary mash-ups” and their novel pairing of novels in titles such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.  Now with a slightly new twist on this genre-bending trend comes a merger of surrealistic film and Elizabethan theater titled “Two Gentlemen of Lebowski.”  Imaginative and entertaining, this latest mash-up was published via the Web earlier this month and has since gone viral.   

Written by New York-based filmmaker Adam Bertocci, “Two Gentlemen of Lebowski” recasts the Coen brother’s 1998 cult classic “The Big Lebowski” in the iambic pentameter of Shakespeare’s “The Two Gentlemen of Verona.”  Though pairing a quirky modern movie about bowling and nihilism with a love story from the Bard may seem odd, Bertocci recently told the Wall Street Journal that the mash-up works because Shakespeare’s themes “are certainly present in the Coen’s work, and in “The Big Lebowski” in particular, there are a lot of Shakespearean references.”  For a taste of what to expect in “Two Gentlemen of Lebowski,” check out the following scene snippet in which slacker Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski meets the multimillionaire who shares his name.  Included first is the original film dialogue followed by Bertocci’s mash-up. 

From the Coen brother’s “The Big Lebowski”… 

The Big Lebowski:  Are you employed, sir?
The Dude:  Employed?
The Big Lebowski:  You don’t go out looking for a job dressed like that? On a weekday?
The Dude:  Is this a… what day is this?
The Big Lebowski:  Well, I do work sir, so if you don’t mind…
The Dude:  I do mind, the Dude minds. This will not stand, ya know, this aggression will not stand, man. 

From Bertocci’s “Two Gentlemen of Lebowski”… 

The Big Lebowski:  Have you employment, sir? Surely you hope not to pledge fealty nor till the earth in such roughly fashioned armour, invested in thy motley, clad as a jack-a-dandy on a Sunday?
The Knave:  I know not; what week-day, friends, is this?
The Big Lebowski:  I tire, and cannot tarry; I am more busy than the labouring spider, and dwell on the iron tread as a man of constant pursuits. Thus, I pray you, you this way and I that way.
The Knave:  I must protest; the Knave minds. This will not stand, this uncheck’d aggression. 

If you find your interest piqued, check out the full mash-up using the following link:  “Two Gentlemen of Lebowski.”  If you’re especially blown away, mark your calendar and book a flight because the 5-act play makes its stage debut March 18th at New York City’s DM Theatrics.  Finally, if you crave more of the Dude or the Bard, try the fan guide I’m a Lebowski, You’re a Lebowski or Marjorie Garber’s Shakespeare and Modern Culture along with the original works from the mash-up. 

And remember…  the Knave abideth.

Russell J.


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