News / Arts & Entertainment

Garden Gnomes Portray Star Crossed Lovers in 'Gnomeo and Juliet'

Scene from "Gnomeo and Juliet"
Scene from "Gnomeo and Juliet"

Multimedia

Audio
Alan Silverman

In the four centuries since Romeo and Juliet was first performed, Shakespeare's tragic tale of "star cross'd lovers" has been recast into formats from high school comedy to musical theater. Now, at long last, we have the whimsical Disney version in a new animated family film produced by rock star Elton John and set in the world of garden gnomes. Here's a look at Gnomeo and Juliet.



"Top of the morning!"
"Lady Bluebury."
"Your tulips are looking a little limp, aren't they?"
"I don't like what you are incinerating."


Two households, both alike in dignity; well, 'dignity' for the cartoon world. It is not in fair Verona, but in a quiet English neighborhood where we lay our scene, in the gardens of next door neighbors Lord Redbrick and Lady Bluebury. Each flowerbed is populated with those classic English garden decorations: little statues of gnomes. His have red caps, hers wear blue and they are bitter rivals. This being the animated version, the gnomes come to life when people are not watching; but when red-capped Juliet meets blue-wearing Gnomeo, the ancient grudge is forgotten.

Scene from "Gnomeo and Juliet"
Scene from "Gnomeo and Juliet"

Gnomeo and Juliet is directed and co-written by animation veteran Kelly Asbury, who makes no apologies to William Shakespeare or to the bard's, perhaps, most malleable tale.

"I think what's universal about the story of Romeo and Juliet is every one has grown up and done something that was rebellious against their parents' wishes, be it love or something else," Asbury says. "We are all rebellious teenagers. Sometimes we grow out of it and sometimes we don't. So one of the underlying themes of the entire movie is [something] everyone can relate to ..…and it's true in many stories like Romeo and Juliet, like Twilight or something."

"What are you doing here?"

"I don't know. Um ..…I came here to ..…well, I don't know, I just wanted to see you again."

"Are you crazy? If Dad finds you, he'll bury you under the patio!"


Emily Blunt plays Juliet in "Gnomeo And Juliet"
Emily Blunt plays Juliet in "Gnomeo And Juliet"

English actress Emily Blunt is the voice of fair Juliet and says she drew on her experience playing the original tragic version on stage.

"I actually did find it very helpful," admits Blunt. "When I did Romeo and Juliet I was about 19 and it was my third professional job and I had a really wonderful director who encouraged a different view of Juliet: that she is not a wilting, delicate flower ..…that she is actually hot-tempered just like her dad and she is decisive and rebellious. When I met Kelly and all these guys it was really great to hear that they really wanted to have a tough, little Juliet like the one I had done on stage."

James McAvoy plays Gnomeo in "Gnomeo And Juliet"
James McAvoy plays Gnomeo in "Gnomeo And Juliet"

As bold Gnomeo to Blunt's Juliet: the voice of Scottish-born James McAvoy, who has played the young lover in several stage productions.

"I always see Romeo as being a bit of a pain in the backside," says McAvoy, "and very in love with himself. He's got a lot of time for himself and some time for the ladies …..as long they've got time for him; and then something massive happens to him. So that was important to kind of make him a little bit 'cock of the walk;' but also Gnomeo in this is a little bit of an amalgamation between Romeo and Mercutio ..…but we don't have that Mercutio character, that leader of the pack, which Romeo isn't, but Gnomeo is, so it was handy to have an appreciation of who Mercutio was as well and that weight of expectation not only to conform to what your family wants, but also just to show off for your blue pals."

"If he won't come out, I guess we'll just have to go in."
"The red garden? No one has ever been in there."
"Well then, I say it's about time someone did."


Scene from "Gnomeo And Juliet"
Scene from "Gnomeo And Juliet"

Gnomeo and Juliet has been 12 years in the making. That's how long it's been since executive producer Elton John first proposed the film that he believes is as relevant today as the original was in the sixteenth century.

"I do feel as though there is a message in this film: we spend so much time hating each other because our parents tell us that's what we have to do," says John. "I think this is a storyline saying we should all get on. Even if we're Catholic or Protestant or Muslim or Jews, if we're Democrats or Republicans, if there is any message that can come out of this film -- which is purely coincidental and the timing is coincidental -- then I'm all for it because that is what life is all about. It is not about hatred."

The voice cast of Gnomeo and Juliet also features Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Jason Statham, Hulk Hogan, Ozzy Osbourne and Patrick Stewart (as Will Shakespeare). The soundtrack includes classic hits and new songs by producer Elton John.

You May Like

Malaysian PM Ends Vacation Over Floods

Najib Razak had been criticized for golfing in Hawaii with US president while country suffered More

Photogallery Fear Amid Remembrances for Tsunami Victims

Across continent, services and tributes acknowledge 220,000 victims of 2004 Indian Ocean disaster; region remains inadequately prepared, experts say More

Liberia Lawmaker Denies Election Manipulation

Alex Tyler said he’s being used as a scapegoat by people who are refusing to accept defeat in the December 20 special senatorial election More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syriai
X
Jeff Seldin
December 24, 2014 11:38 PM
Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syria

Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video Russians Head Into Holiday Facing Economic Malaise

Russian preparations for the New Year holiday are clouded by economic recession and a tumbling currency, the ruble. Nonetheless, people in the Russian capital appear to be in a festive mood. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Mombasa in Holiday Tourism Slump Due to Security Fears

Kenya's usually popular beachside tourist destination of Mombasa is seeing a much slower holiday season this year due to fears of insecurity as the country has suffered from a string of terror attacks linked to Somali militants. Mohammed Yusuf reports for VOA on how businessmen and tourists feel about the situation.
Video

Video For Somalis, 2014 Marked by Political Instability Within Government

While Somalia has long been torn apart by warfare and violence, this year one of the country's biggest challenges has come from within the government, as political infighting curtails the country's progress, threatens security gains and disappoints the international community. VOA's Gabe Joselow report.
Video

Video US Political Shift Could Affect Iran Nuclear Talks

Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to resolve Iran’s nuclear crisis are continuing into 2015 after Iran and six world powers failed to agree by a November deadline. U.S. domestic politics, however, could complicate efforts to reach a deal in the new year. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video NYSE: The Icon of Capitalism

From its humble beginnings in 1792 to its status as an economic bellweather for the world, the New York Stock Exchange is an integral part of the story of America. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from Wall Street.
Video

Video Islamic State Emergence Transforms Syria and Iraq in 2014

The emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as a potent force in early 2014 changed the dynamics of the region. Their brutal methods - including executions and forced slavery - horrified the international community, drawing Western forces into the conflict. It also splintered the war in Syria, where more than 200,000 Syrians have died in the conflict. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell looks back at a deadly year in the region -- and what 2015 may hold.
Video

Video Massive Study Provides Best Look at Greenland Ice Loss Yet

The Greenland ice sheet is melting faster than predicted, according to a new study released in the Proceedings of the National Academic of Sciences that combines NASA satellite data and aerial missions. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the finding means coastal communities worldwide could be at greater risk, sooner, from the impact of rising seas.
Video

Video US Marines, Toys for Tots Bring Christmas Joy

Christmas is a time for giving in the United States, especially to young children who look forward to getting presents. But some families don't have money to buy gifts. For nearly 70 years, a U.S. Marines-sponsored program has donated toys and distributed them to underprivileged children during the holiday season. VOA's Deborah Block tells us about the annual Toys for Tots program.
Video

Video France Rocked by Attacks as Fear of ISIS-Inspired Terror Grows

Eleven people were injured, two seriously, when a man drove his car into crowds of pedestrians Sunday night in the French city of Dijon, shouting ‘God is Great’ in Arabic. It’s the latest in a series of apparent ‘lone-wolf’ terror attacks in the West. Henry Ridgwell looks at the growing threat of attacks, which security experts say are likely inspired by the so-called "Islamic State" terror group.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

"Soul Lounge" host Shawna Renee catches up with soul singer and songwriter Russell Taylor to hear what he’s been up to since winning the VH1 "You Oughta Know" title in 2013. She also convinces him to share a few songs from his album "War of Hearts."