A body swap is a storytelling device seen in a variety of science and supernatural fiction, in which two people (or beings) exchange minds and end up in each other's bodies. In media such as television and film, the device is an opportunity for two actors to temporarily play each other's characters, although in some cases, dialogue is dubbed by the original actors.
There are different types of body swapping. For non-technology swapping, switches can be caused by magic items such as amulets, heartfelt wishes, or just strange quirks of the universe. The switches typically reverse after the subjects have expanded their world views, gained a new appreciation for each other's troubles by literally "walking in another's shoes" and/or caused sufficient amounts of farce. Notable examples include the books Vice Versa (1882) and Freaky Friday (1972), as well as the film versions of both.
Switches accomplished by technology, exempting gadgets advanced sufficiently to appear as magic, are the fare of mad scientists. Body-swapping devices are usually characterized by a highly experimental status, straps, helmets with many complicated cables that run to a central system and a tendency to direly malfunction before their effects can be reversed. Those without such means may resort to brain transplants. Such experiments can have overtones of horror.
Appearances in fiction and drama
Since the Vice Versa novel was published in 1882, body swaps have been a popular theme in various media:
- Boy Meets Girl (2009 TV miniseries) – Two strangers swap bodies when struck by lightning.
- The Change-Up (2011 film) – A lawyer and family man switches with his best friend who is an adult video actor.
- Dating the Enemy (1996 film) – An Australian comedy about a boyfriend and girlfriend who swap bodies and have to live as each other.
- Freaky Friday (1972 book) – Mother and daughter. Disney produced a film in 1976 and remakes in 1995 and 2003. Several television shows have used Freaky Friday or variants of for their episode titles. This also inspired the Freaky Freakend sitcom block where several TV shows on Disney Channel featured body swapping episodes.
- The Hot Chick (2002 film) – A popular high school cheerleader finds herself in a man's body.
- The Identity Matrix (1982 novel by Jack L. Chalker) – Victor Gonser swaps with various women as part of an alien body swapping scheme.
- It's a Boy Girl Thing (2006 film) – Male teen and neighbor girl.
- Laughing Gas (1936 novel by P. G. Wodehouse) – Reggie and Joey inhale laughing gas at a dentist's office and find they have swapped bodies.
- Prelude to a Kiss (1988 play) – A mysterious old man kisses a bride on her wedding day and switches bodies. It was adapted into a 1992 film that starred Alec Baldwin and Meg Ryan.
- Secret Garden (South Korean drama) – A stuntwoman switches bodies with a handsome CEO.
- The Thing on the Doorstep (1937 short story by H. P. Lovecraft)
- Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches (2012 manga by Miki Yoshikawa) – A boy and a girl are able to switch bodies with a kiss.
- Your Name (2016 anime film by Makoto Shinkai) – A teenage boy and girl intermittently swap bodies.
- Ithihasa (2014 Malayalam film) – A male small-time crook and a female IT professional find themselves trapped in each other's body due to the magic of an ancient ring.
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