19 November 2012
Movie Analysis: Shrek
I first saw the movie Shrek on a spontaneous trip to the theater with my family. We had not seen any previews or commercials for this feature, but from what we gained from the lady who sold us our tickets, it was just another fairy tale fantasy created by DreamWorks. However, this movie was quite different from what we had become accustomed to seeing in Disney’s films, and because of this, my mother hated it almost instantly. She disliked it so much in fact that we actually left part way through the movie.
The reasons behind my mother’s reaction to Shrek tie most closely to her being caught off guard and to what she saw as Shrek’s obnoxious and unwanted violation of the stories she grew up watching and being told as a child. This was obviously not the intended purpose of the film, but I have no doubt that other viewers might have taken this spoof on their child hood memories the same way. If we had been better informed of the plot or if we had stayed in our seats until the end, there is a possibility that my mother, and those like her, may have enjoyed it.
In fact, since then, she has accepted Shrek as something other than the traditional fairy tale and even likes the movie, but she still prefers the classics.
What my mother took to be “obnoxious and unwanted violation[s],” however, were
actually clever parodies. This film satirizes the countless fairy tales and themes that have been characterized by Disney. There is no defenseless damsel of a princess or dashing Prince
Charming to fight for her; instead we are given an ogre and a donkey fighting for possession of a foul swamp. However, when watched critically, it becomes apparent that there is more to this cartoon than one might initially think; hidden in the fabric of the movie are complex themes and moral lessons aimed at a more mature audience.
A satire is “a form of ridicule intended to expose the truth” of whatever is being satirized
(“Satire”). In making Shrek a satire, DreamWorks ultimately broke apart the idea of fairy tales and rearranged the pieces to show them in a new light. With the curtains drawn back on these beloved childhood stories, the truths that DreamWorks uncovers include some of the ways in which Disney has actually been a harmful influence on children. In nearly all its films, an unrealistically high bar is set by the characters, and the children watching cannot help but continually compare themselves to the flawless princesses or the tall, handsome knights which is not a very healthy way to grow up (Reese). Shrek, on the other hand, has a more realistic portrayal of its characters; they have flaws and vices that make them more lifelike. Despite
Shrek’s size and apparent “I don’t care what you think” attitude, the viewer can still see that he also has insecurities of his own. For example, when Shrek is traveling with Fiona and Donkey, particular scenes make it clear that he would prefer to be human. He falls for the princess, in part because she is able to look past his appearance, but before that moment, he believed that he was not good enough for her.
He even makes a point to say, “I’m not your type” when she asks to kiss her rescuer after they all escape the tower. Whether these insecurities are
in regards to their looks, personal life, or something else, they ultimately make it easier to relate to the characters.
However, this connection to the audience is not so easily formed between all of Shrek’s characters. Lord Farquaad is an example of one of these characters.
As the “bad guy,” he is expected to have his faults, but as with most them, his are a little less understandable. However, his particular set characteristics seem oddly familiar. This is because the