Shakespeare on Screen
Freda Worrell explains why Gnomeo and Juliet is the best adaptation of ‘Romeo & Juliet’.
It’s no secret that Romeo and Juliet is one of the most iconic love stories of all time – since its first performance in 1597 there have been thousands of adaptations, spin-offs and re-writes. From Leonardo DiCaprio and Clare Danes all the way to Westside Story, it’s a passionate tale of forbidden love and tragic death. But which of all these thousands is the best? Which one truly captures the magic and emotion of this story?
The answer is as obvious as it is ridiculous – Gnomeo and Juliet.
While Leonardo has that undeniable beauty and talent for acting that make him a good lead, and the Jets and Sharks have passionate ballads and choreography, none of that quite compares to the animated majesty of two tribes of garden gnomes at war in the English suburbs.
This beloved film shows its brutal rivalry not through overcompensating fights at petrol stations or long dramatic monologues but with their distinctive opposing red and blue hats. Yet, this unforgiving difference is not enough to stop the love that blossoms (literally, they meet while fighting over an orchid – a situation we have all found ourselves in) between Gnomeo of the Blues and Juliet of the Reds. Through Emily Blunt, Juliet has at last been given a personality and is the feisty daughter of the Red Chief, determined to prove that she has worth in the garden. Through a fairly spectacular display of parkour, she wins the heart of Gnomeo (James McAvoy). Once they discover the others’ identity they are horrified. But, after a joy ride on a lawnmower and the help of a friendly one legged flamingo, they decide they must be together.
Despite the hatred of their parents (Maggie Smith and Micheal Kane – I was as surprised as you) the two plan to elope, yet when the ever-irrelevant Benny’s hat is smashed by the cruel Tybalt, the two engage in an epic battle in which Tybalt is tragically smashed by a lawnmower and Gnomeo appears to have been run over by a passing van. The lovers are, of course, eventually reunited when an out of control lawnmower (the true villain of this piece) wreaks destruction on both gardens and all must band together to save one another.
This adaptation of Shakespeare’s most famous piece is made brilliant simply by the fact that someone managed to make an entire movie (and a sequel) by extracting the pun “Gnomeo” from “Romeo”.
From a tragedy to a triumph this adaptation secures its place at the top with loose connections to the original plot (with the owners of the garden named Miss Montague and Mr Capulet, who live of course on Verona drive) and Patrick Stewart as William Shakespeare. The magic of this romance is only enhanced by its whimsical plot line and the reconciling over such a shallow difference.
This adaptation of Shakespeare’s most famous piece is made brilliant simply by the fact that someone managed to make an entire movie (and a sequel) by extracting the pun “Gnomeo” from “Romeo”. Just when we had all given up hope of another re-hashing of an already re-hashed production, just when we were all recovering from the Lion King Sequel, along comes this brilliant notion in which the overplayed suicide element is completely removed and instead everyone gets to ride off into the sunset to an Elton John Soundtrack.
A true cinematic masterpiece.