From Middleton and Rowley's Changeling to Sam Shepard's Bodyguard a Contemporary Appropriation of a Renaissance Drama

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Throughout his career, Sam Shepard has demonstrated a preoccupation with national identity, myths and symbols. The focus of the present study, The Bodyguard (1973), was commissioned by Tony Richardson, a film adaptation of Middleton and Rowley's classic English play, with its central love-hate relationship. The screen adaptation is presented here as a counterhegemonic appropriation of the canonical text through an assertion of Shepard's American identity and a vindication of his popular roots. The adaptation critically inscribes the tension Shepard experiences between national idea(l)s and a multicultural reality into the plot, themes and imagery of the early modern play, besides exemplifying and thematizing the postmodern fusion of high and low culture.


“Quite convincingly, Johan Callens shows how Shepard’s only screen adaptation of a Renaissance play fits in his itinerary. . . Comparing the two versions written between 1971 and 1978, and the revision, J. Callens explores interculturalism and the representation of society and cultural background involved in the original and the adaptation. . . . Well documented, this book is a useful excursion in a province often ignored by Sam Shepard’s fans.” – review by Liliane Kerjan

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