‘Shrek’ a Dreamworks-produced animated film has a cast of characters that could show Disney’s heroes a thing or two. The opening of Shrek is reminiscent of Disney’s Snow White. One thing about Shrek that comes as a surprise is how it incorporates the traditional fairytale. Forget the handsome prince, damsel in distress and living happily ever after, Shrek stars as a hideous beast with an unattractive princess, whose best friend is a donkey with issues, yet they all live happily ever after. ‘Shrek’ tells the tale of a green ogre, a talking ass, a disillusioned princess and a lord who ‘comes in short supply.’ While most of the plot is predictable, the dialogue is funny and unpredictable.
The opening to the movie Shrek differs when compared to a conventional story as it takes its inspiration from several fairy tales. Most fairy tales are elegantly illustrated books with a stereotypical plot. Shrek begins by seemingly adhering to this, however, a slimy green hand covering the edge of the book, rips out a page. It is used to wipe Shrek’s bottom. Shrek utters the words, ‘ Like that’s ever going to happen,’ and slams the book shut. Modern music cuts in and there are different camera angles on Shrek while he jumps into the murky swamp. The opening lines follow a conventional story but the opening also suggests that the movie will be comical and unusual as well as making traditional fairy stories more interesting.
When all fairy tale creatures are being given their eviction notices, Donkey pretends that he cannot talk so he will not be sold. Pixie dust falls on him and Donkey rises into the air and starts to talk. Soon realising he has started to fall, he dashes away into a large thing which turns out to be Shrek; while guards are on the chase after him. Every animated fairy tale has a sidekick and Shrek unwillingly brings along a talking donkey.
Donkey looks up to Shrek and he is not afraid of him unlike all the others. Shrek is not social; he does not want to be friends with the ass, he wants to be alone and forgotten. Even though Shrek dislikes Donkey, at first, Donkey never gives up, as he has nothing against the ogre. Donkey has all the right lines and puns but is pretty much incapable of shutting up. Donkey is described, as a “noble steed” but this is not completely true as he is seen to be annoying on the outside but has a heart of gold on the inside as he cares for others feelings.
When Lord Farquaad tortures the Gingerbread Man, all the camera angles change, as there are close-ups of the Ginger Bread Man’s body when Farquaad is about to pull off his gumdrop buttons. When Farquaad questions the Gingerbread Man, the camera shot alternates quickly between the two and shows a close-up on their faces. This is realistic and very effective also when they are both talking about the Muffin Man in an inquisitive way. References to nursery rhymes and other fairy tales become commonplace. This is intertextuality creates humour.
When Shrek and Donkey visit Duloc, Donkey tries to encourage Shrek to be more ogre like but he seems reluctant, suggesting that he is incapable of being frightening. People do not see this and judge him in a wrong way. Duloc is described as the ‘perfect town’ where the vain Lord Farquaad lives. He overcompensates for his height by living in a high castle. The lighting is perfect as the surroundings all have subdued tones you often get in fairy tales, as castles are picturesque and the atmosphere is clean and tidy.
Farquaad finds a magic mirror like the one in Snow White and plays Blind Date on it: it is most unlikely that anyone would pick him. He picks the woman of his dreams and wants a knight to go on a quest and rescue her from a fire-breathing dragon. This does not follow a fairy tale format as the brave prince always goes to save his princess. So far any ordinary person can tell Farquaad is the villain due to his cruel and unjustly nature. He seems to be selfish, just thinking and caring for himself and has no deep feelings for others, “its an ugly hideous ogre,” “no need to be polite, its not like it has any feelings.” This is what makes his character distinctive.
None other than Shrek gets muddled in all this confusion when he wants his swamp cleared out of fairy creatures. All creatures from all tales are put onto the swamp with some famous lines but slightly changed like, ‘He huffed and he puffed and…he served us with an eviction notice,’ said by one of the three little pigs who in this story sounds and looks very effeminate. Bringing quotes into the film from random fairy tales makes the character himself more original. They adapted the quote slightly to make it more humorous and unusual so it fits in with the script.