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Don Quixote, Sweded by Michel Gondry in Be Kind Rewind (2008)

Erin K. Hogan
  • University of Maryland Baltimore County; Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication; Baltimore, Maryland 21250, USA
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Published Online: 2017-12-29 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2017-0042


In the spirit of poetic license from Be Kind Rewind (2008), this article argues that Michel Gondry’s film “swedes,” its playful neologism for ersatz remaking of Hollywood and classic films, Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote. The feature follows the Sanchification of Jerry (Jack Black), Gondry’s Don Quixote, and Quixotification of Mike (Mos Def), Gondry’s Sancho, as they nostalgically wrong cinematic rights through sweding and try to save their working-class neighbourhood from condemnation and gentrification through community film making. Gondry swedes the Quixote through his engagement with major themes and operations in Cervantes’s classic, including nostalgia, story-telling, conflicts between reality and fantasy, authorship, the grotesque and carnivalesque, (anti-)heroes, race and gender-bending, genre, and addressees turned addressers. This article discusses Be Kind Rewind’s relationship to Hollywoodian and Cervantine classics through the theoretical frameworks of Julio Garcia Espinosa’s imperfect cinema and Foucauldian semiotics, respectively. Be Kind Rewind uses and abuses Hollywood stereotypes to re-purpose them for a critique of discriminatory practices. Where casting is concerned and where Michel’s characters diverge from Miguel’s, Be Kind Rewind advances that skin colour is not an arbitrary sign and that race has historical and contemporary meaning in intercultural interactions.

Keywords : Cervantes; Be Kind Rewind; Michel Gondry; imperfect cinema; race


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About the article

Received: 2017-08-31

Accepted: 2017-12-07

Published Online: 2017-12-29

Published in Print: 2017-12-20

Citation Information: Open Cultural Studies, Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 454–467, ISSN (Online) 2451-3474, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2017-0042.

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© 2018. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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