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The play Romeo and Juliet was scripted by William Shakespeare in 1594 and is one of Shakespeare’s most famous works. Even though it was written so long ago, it is still well known all over the globe today. The play inspired Kelly Asbury to direct Gnomeo and Juliet in 2011. Romeo and Juliet is about two star crossed lovers who take their own lives in order to be together due to the feud between their families, While, Gnomeo and Juliet has the same story line but uses garden gnomes to portray the humans. In the film, both families must learn to bury their differences when the main characters fall in love. In both mediums, strong themes of love, revenge and conflict are depicted. However, since Gnomeo and Juliet is a children’s movie aimed at a much younger audience, which draws to a happy ending rather than a tragic ending
The theme of love is highlighted as the most prominent theme in both mediums. In Romeo and Juliet, the two met at a Capulet feast and it was love at first sight. Once they found out that they were from different households, they were absolutely torn at the fact that they could not be together because their families were feuding. Juliet confessed her love for Romeo and expressed how upset she was about him being a Montague “Oh Romeo, Oh Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo. Deny thy father and refuse thy name; and I will no longer be a Capulet”. This despair is demonstrated similarly in both the play and the film “what’s in a name? a rose by any other word would smell as sweet.” By this Juliet is implying that even if Romeo had another name, he would still be the man she loves. Although Juliet’s famous words are present in both mediums, they are expressed differently. In Gnomeo and Juliet, Instead of Juliet using a rose to explain her love for Gnomeo she says “I mean, what’s in a gnome? Because your blue, my father sees red and because I’m red, I’m feeling blue… and at any rate that shouldn’t be the thing to keep us apart”. Juliet in both mediums is absolutely torn about the fact that she can’t be with the one she loves due to the family’s feud.
Kelly Asbury decided to conclude Gnomeo and Juliet with a happy ending showing the two getting married. This is very different in comparison to how Shakespeare chose to have Romeo and Juliet take their own lives and ending tragically. However, both endings ironically ended the feuds between the families. Although in the play, Friar Laurence marries Romeo and Juliet it doesn’t affect any of the other characters or the story as no body knew about the marriage except for Friar Laurence, Juliet’s nurse and obviously Romeo and Juliet. In the film, when Lady Blueberry and Lord Redbrick see the damage they’ve caused due to the feud, the declare “the feud to be over” thus illustrating the end of the feud between the red and blue gnomes.
Revenge occurs periodically throughout the play and the film. In some instances, revenge is shown relatively the same. In the play, Tybalt wants revenge against Romeo and Mercutio for crashing the Capulet’s feast. He starts a fight with Mercutio and stabs him which consequently killed Mercutio. “a plague, a plague on both your houses” is the curse that Mercutio places on both Romeo and Tybalt’s houses, he does this because he believes that the feud between the Montague’s and the Capulet’s was the cause of his death. Romeo gets revenge against Tybalt for killing Mercutio. Romeo does so by stabbing Tybalt and killing him. However, in the film it’s not technically Gnome’s fault that Tybalt dies, as Tybalt was on a lawnmower fighting with Gnomeo, Gnomeo jumps of and warns Tybalt that he is headed towards a wall “what, you really think I’m going to fall for that… what wall?” but the lawnmower hits the wall and Tybalt goes flying off the lawnmower “Oh, that wall” and smashes into pieces, only to be glued back together later in the film.
Although, in both mediums, the major conflict is between the Montague’s and the Capulets in the play and the Red and Blue gnomes in the film, in the film, there is also a conflict between Miss Montague and Mr. Capulet. The pair of bickering neighbors who despise each other. Their rivalry is based on whose garden looks nicer, their conflict is what sparks emulation between the Red and Blue gnomes, who will do anything to destroy the others garden. Whenever the Red gnomes destroy the Blues garden or vice versa, Miss Montague and Mr. Capulet are quite quick to blame each other for the destruction of their gardens. The rivalry between the Red and Blue gnomes is illustrated through incidents of them wanting to ruin the other garden whether it’s the Blues graffiti on Tybalt’s well or when the Reds ruined the Blues flower bed. The conflict between Miss Montague and Mr. Capulet is the primary reason behind the feud between the Reds and the Blues and is the reason why Gnomeo and Juliet cannot be together.
Linda Hutcheon summarises adaptation and three points. ‘An acknowledged transposition of a recognised other work or works’. Hutcheon suggests that if one’s work does not acknowledge that it is an adaptation, it cannot be considered one. ‘A creative and an interpretive act of appropriation act of appropriation salvaging salvaging’. The word appropriation refers to the act of borrowing something from a text and turning it into something new, and this could be for a new piece of text or to change the context of the text. Hutcheon uses the word salvage to imply saving a text to prevent it from getting lost or forgotten. Hutcheon’s third point is ‘extended intertextual engagement with the adapted work’. Hutcheon suggests that using a story in passing would be considered an illusion rather than a proper adaptation. Her definition of adaptation could be viewed as limited; however, this could be argued or seen as an advantage because the narrowness of the definition of adaptation could allow newcomers to have a more precise understanding of adaptation.
In conclusion, the play Romeo and Juliet, and the film Gnomeo and Juliet have many similarities like the story line and Juliet’s famous lines to Romeo confessing her love. But also has several differences, the most significant difference being Romeo and Juliet’s tragic death in comparison to Gnomeo and Juliet which ends happily and in marriage. Both mediums demonstrate substantial themes of love, revenge and conflict. In both texts, the family feuds end and the conflicts and differences are put behind them reiterating the universal message of reconciliation when faced with conflict and that love triumphs over revenge and hatred.
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