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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

New Orleans-based Water Seed joins Shawna Renee inside the "Soul Lounge" where they introduce listeners to their latest album, a wonderful fusion of jazz, soul and rhythm & blues. The group also explains how the heart of New Orleans influences each of them as musicians and songwriters.