Shrek, an ‘Academy Award winning animated feature film,’ produced by DreamWorks Animation had its debut in 2001. Surprisingly, it was based upon William Steig’s 1990 fairy tale picture book entitled ‘Shrek’ Furthermore, it was a great success because it managed to appeal to all types of audiences. Because the film was extremely successful on its release in 2001 it helped establish DreamWorks as a prime competitor to Walt Disney Pictures. Shrek is an animation film that combines action, humour and romance; these elements make the film very interesting in a unique way.
Several features have made this film a great success. In this analysis, a variety of these features and their effects will be discussed. In traditional fairy tales, we expect certain characters such as an innocent beautiful princess, and a handsome young heroic prince. The film nearly always includes a villain to create the tension in the storyline, possibly an ogre or some giant. Traditionally, these villains are portrayed as a bad, nasty creature that are normally out to eat the main characters such as the princess.
However, the use of presentational devices in Shrek, for instance language, fairy tales, camera shots, and humour all helped to reverse this tradition in the creation of “Shrek”. Firstly, we are presented with a traditional opening to a fairytale story, starting with a typical, antique fairytale book. This idea is further explored through the enchanting moment of the book opening by itself; this creates a stereotypical and enchanting start. In addition, the book mentions the typical fairytale line of “Once upon a time. The book follows the traditional tale of a courageous prince slaying a dragon and saving a beautiful princess and contains lively colours with stereotypical descriptions of the princess and prince. The music employed was classical and enchanting suggesting a magical, traditional opening. All these devices, give the feeling of a traditional fairytale. However, the idea of a stereotypical fairytale is reversed through the introduction of Shrek.
This is done through alternate presentational devices, where Shrek destroys the conventional setting by ripping out the last page of the book and using it as toilet paper. Other devices used that break the typical fairytale conventions are the characters; rather than being presented with a charming and handsome prince, we are presented with a filthy looking ogre with unclean. Also that not all princes are good and caring as in the film we quickly learn that the Lord Farquaad is not a traditional prince but is selfish and evil.
Furthermore, rather than a shot of a magical palace, we are introduced to the setting of a filthy swamp. This technique of surprise and shock and reverse stereotyping, is not expected as a result it creates humour, in a traditional fairytale. The music is revolutionised from orchestral, classical music to a more up beat and modern tune. Through the techniques used above, the idea of a fairytale has been completely destroyed, constructing a different impression as to how the story will continue. Shrek follows unconventional methods to save Princess Fiona.
Firstly, he shakes her instead of kissing her. Before saving her, he does not slay the dragon. Shrek travels alongside a donkey rather than a horse. This is very odd for a fairy tale. Nevertheless, in the end of the film Shrek and Fiona get married, with the tale ending similarly to a traditional fairytale of a good prince and princess getting married and living happily ever after. Language is an important feature, which can create the impression of good and evil, both in the characters and in films.
The language used in Shrek is very modern, mix of Scottish, American slang aimed at a modern western audience which suggests that the film must be entertaining. For example, when Shrek says “Oh come on can’t we settle this over a pint? ” This type of colloquial, popular language would never be used in a conventional fairy tale. Shrek is full of edgy humour directed at teenagers and adults. Swearing is also utilised in the film, for example ‘(synonym for Donkey)’. This would never been acceptable in a children’s film and would be used more frequently by the western side group.
The modern language itself creates humour because it is widely used, and people of many ages enjoy the puns and popular jokes. Moreover, the film has many jokes as well, for example, it has several flatulence jokes when Shrek and Fiona are lingering through the woods. Shrek 1 and 2 are unique films in the way the makers have produced and presented the film. I feel that the film makers have used the presentational features, such as humour, music, and types of different languages to reverse what is a traditional ‘Disney fantasy’ into a funny and meaningful giving film.
Shrek shows that not all ogres are evil as throughout the film we can see that nobody is intimidated by our friendly star Shrek even if he is an ugly ogre. Also that not all princes are good and caring as in the film we quickly learn that the Lord Farquaad is not a traditional prince but is selfish and evil. To sum up what I have said in this essay, I would like to say Shrek is a very unexpected, gripping and successful film because of the use of the features that were discussed in this essay.