In traditional fairy tales, ogres are man-eating beasts. The prince usually rescues the princess; they marry and live happily ever after. So how do the makers of ‘Shrek’ use presentational devices to reverse this tradition, to reveal the Ogre as good, and the Prince as evil? In this essay, I will analyze the characters of Shrek and Lord Farquaad and write about how the filmmakers use different interpretations, making Shrek as good and the Prince as evil, to create an unusual fairytale.
In traditional fairytales, they start with an elaborate book that opens up to tell the story; gradually, each book’s page turns to reveal the next page. The book starts by telling the reader the background about the fairytale “Once upon a time there lived a lovely princess” with beautifully painted illustrations. In traditional fairytales such as ‘Snow White and the seven dwarfs,’ the witch casts an evil spell upon Snow White, a handsome prince rescues Snow White, and she is freed from the spell and lives happily ever after.
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In ‘Jack and the beanstalk’ the giant chases Jack away from his kingdom; Jack runs away from the giant as fast as he can; otherwise, the giant would eat him. Language is an important device, and I am going to write about how language can create the impression of good and evil in both characters, and in films. For example, at the beginning of ‘Shrek’ the film opens with a leather-bound book that opens and starts telling the story. Gentle music is played but stops, and a giant illuminated hand appears.
The hand rips the page out of the book, you hear a flush of the toilet at the start, and modern rap music is played. That is when you realize that the film won’t be a traditional fairytale. When the storybook characters arrive, Shrek threatens them, saying, “I will grind your bones for my bread and shave your liver and make jelly from your eyes” Shrek tries to frighten them, saying, “ogres are worse than giants. The storybook characters react by running away screaming. This suggests Shrek seems like a traditional ogre because, like ‘Jack and the beanstalk, ‘ ogres and giants like the taste of humans “Fe fi fo fum I smell the blood of an Englishman.”
When Donkey approaches, Shrek roars at him and tries to intimidate him, Donkey is not frightened, and Donkey responds to Shrek by laughing at him and is not intimated. Donkey says, “You need some tic-tacs” Donkey ridicules Shrek about his bad breath. Donkey questions Shrek; Shrek shouts, “What am I?” Shrek employs that he is a monster, but it doesn’t scare Donkey. Donkey is very irritating towards Shrek. He runs into Shrek’s house and bounces on his chair. Shrek fails when he tries to stop Donkey, suggesting that Shrek isn’t a terrifying ogre! Unbeknown to Shrek, fairytale characters have been evicted by Lord Farquaad and came to Shrek’s swamp.
Shrek noticed three mice on his table and up to his shoulder. It is comedy as he fails to catch the mice. Shrek shouts, “I’m a terrifying Ogre; what do I have to do to get a little privacy?” The behaviour of the Donkey and the mice suggests that Shrek maybe not be as frightening as an ogre should be. Shrek and Donkey visit Duloc to try to reclaim Shreks’ swamp from Lord Farquaad. Donkey thinks that Shrek is too soft and should not have to ask as the swamp belongs to him anyway. Donkey tells Shrek to “Pull some ogre stuff” to sort out Lord Farquaad. Shrek suggests solving the dispute about how he was unhappy when Lord Farquaad sent the fairytale characters to the swamp where Shrek lives “over a pint”.
Shrek’s character does not want to keep hurting people all the time and wants to discuss issues – being an ogre does not always mean fighting. The knight declines his offer and follows Lord Farquaads request to “tab at him” (Shrek). Shrek asks Donkey if he should decapitate an entire village “cut open their spleens and drink their fluids” Donkey understands Shreks point of view that killing isn’t always the answer. When Shrek breaks into the castle to rescue Princess Fiona, he acts like an ogre when Shrek shakes Princess Fiona violently and says, “Wake up now let’s go”.
She responds by disappointment, saying that there is no “romantic moment” she suggests different ways in which this could happen ” recite an epic poem” but Shrek is not interested. Shrek has failed to slay the dragon “I have to save my [his] ass!” Princess Fiona misinterprets what Shrek was trying to say, Princess Fiona thinks that Shrek is selfish “What kind of knight are you?”. Although Shrek appears violent when we learn that he has failed to slay the dragon because Donkey asks, “Where is that fire-breathing pain in the neck anyway?” Shrek replied ” waiting inside for us to rescue her,” this means slaying the dragon is not really the most important thing on Shreks mind.
At the beginning of the film, Shrek tries to threaten the characters that he meets, but Donkey, the mice, the storybook characters and Princess Fiona are not intimidated by Shrek or his appearance. Instead, he tries to make them frightened by reminding them that he is an ogre. Although Shrek is an ogre he doesn’t always seem like one. In contrast to Shrek, Lord Farquaad is cruel. He watches the torture of the gingerbread man, laughs and then taunts the gingerbread man “Run, run, run as fast as you can” this shows that Lord Farquaad is evil. He tries to pull off the gingerbread man’s buttons but fails as the gingerbread man screams.
The gingerbread man is then thrown in a bin with the lid slammed down. Lord Farquaad wants to have the perfect kingdom and be the perfect king. He asked the magic mirror whether he is the perfect king and the mirror tells him he is not technically a king but could be if he marries a princess. In making a mockery on ‘Blinddate’ Lord Farquaad has three beautiful women to choose from the princess chosen is princess Fiona. He says formally “Beautiful fair flower flawless Fiona will you be the perfect bride for the perfect groom?”. In the end, at the end of the film Lord Farquaad orders the knights to ” Get that out of my sight” Lord Farquaad saw Princess Fiona after sunset when the spell cast upon her makes her turn into an ogre.
Lord Farquaad still proclaims himself asking even though he can’t even look at Princess Fiona. The impression I get from Lord Farquaad is heartless because he taunts the gingerbread man by looking down on him and picking up the gingerbread man’s broken legs and playing with them whilst laughing in an evil way. He is also very vain and considers himself to be ‘perfect’ when he certainly is not. He is also selfish the only reason he wants to marry Princess Fiona is that he would like to be king and have the perfect kingdom. He doesn’t understand that beauty is skin-deep and is rude to Princess Fiona when he sees her turn into an ogre after sunset he doesn’t want anything to do with her.
In this film, we quickly learn that the prince is not like a traditional fairytale character because Princes are kind and treat women in a kind way. Lord Farquaad is ready to marry Princess Fiona until he sees that when the sun sets she is turned into an ogre by a spell that was cast upon her when she was a child. Lord Farquaad calls off the wedding but he still proclaims himself as king he is deceptive because he should only become king if he loves Princess Fiona. It is clear that Lord Farquaad does not love the Princess but agrees to marriage because he wants to have the perfect kingdom.
When a director is making a film it is important that he/she uses a variety of camera angles to create certain effects. At the beginning of the film, Shrek scares the storybook characters away there is a close-up shot of his mouth to give the impression that he is going to eat them because saliva also flies out of his mouth. Close-up shots are also useful for focusing the viewer’s attention on the emotions of the characters. Both Princess Fiona and Shrek can reveal their true happiness through close-ups of them smiling. The camera alternates from Shrek and Fiona back and forth.
Tension is created when Lord Farquaad is introduced. Instead of focusing on his face, the camera focuses on Lord Farquaads hands whilst he is putting on a pair of gloves as if he means business. When Shrek visits Lord Farquaads castle the camera moves from the ground level upward to reveal his tower. This is called a high-angle shot. It is useful because it makes Lord Farquaad seem more important and appear more vulnerable. Low-angle shots are effectively used because they show Lord Farquaad looking down on his subjects. Mid-angle shots are used when Shrek and Donkey are relaxing together and when Shrek has cooked Princess Fiona a meal.
These shots show both the character at the same time and have the effect of characters socializing with each other. Sometimes a character’s back is shown rather than their face. This is used to suggest isolation from other characters for example when Shrek sits on the edge of the cliff with his back camera when the princess goes off to bed. He also turns his back to the camera when the princess goes off to sleep. He also turns his back on the fire. Later on, he turns his back on Donkey to signal the end of their friendship. Presentational devices are also used to influence the viewer and make them see a particular character in a certain way.
The story begins in Shrek’s swamp. The Swamp is a secluded area where nobody goes, slushy mud puddles and a sign which says ‘Beware of Ogre’ it is not a particularly inviting place! This is a traditional/expected home for an ogre. Donkey goes to the swamp because the swamp is not as unwelcoming as it should be. Lord Farquaad lives in a castle. I would expect the castle to be in comfortable surroundings with pretty flowers and songbirds. Instead, we see the torture of the gingerbread man, the hooded figure who is one of Lord Farquaads alibis and violence where the knights battle to see who will be given the task of rescuing Fiona.
When we first meet Shrek, it is evident that he is supposed to look like an ogre because Shrek is quite ugly. He is a tall, bright green colour with funnel-like ears at the top of his head, a large nose and dirty teeth. He lives in a secluded swamp area in a hut he bathes in the mud where insects thrive, including grubs. Shrek is a very isolated person and sits eating his meals by a candle made from the wax of his ears. Lord Farquaad seems like a typical Lord.
He wears traditional Elizabethan period attire: dark red with puffed sleeves, tights and a red cloak and hat and belt, all coordinating red and gold-rimmed. He lives in an elaborate castle that is extremely grand but becomes unpleasant when they show the torturing of the gingerbread man by the hooded figure. However, the film’s setting is not traditional because usually, Shreks ‘The bad character’ home is more welcoming than Lord Farquaads character. For example, when Shrek and Donkey meet and go back to Shreks swamp, Donkey attempts to set up home there.
That suggests Shreks home is more welcoming. Lighting is also used to persuade the viewer to think of a character in a certain way. When Princess Fiona leaves Shrek, Shrek sits with his back to the camera and stares at the moon. Darkness is used here because Shrek feels alone. This is supposed to reflect Shrek’s isolation, which is emphasized by him looking away from the fire with his back to the camera. He is staring into the black night, looking at the moon. The images of light are used thoughtfully too. Shrek and Princess Fiona are often pictured walking through meadows.
After Shrek has met the princess, he is often pictured by the sunset, Shrek and the princess walk together through the woods on a sunny day when the birds are chirping, and the princess sings that shows contentment. The brilliant light at the end of the film suggests greatness and a magical fairytale happy ending. When we first meet Lord Farquaad and the hooded figure, there is marching music, this making the viewer feel tense and suggests that battle will commence. When
Shrek enters Lord Farquaads arena. The loud organ music suggests the importance of the Shreks tournament and the importance of the Lord. When Shrek overhears the conversation between Donkey misinterprets the conversation. At this moment, the music is slow, which reflects Shreks unhappiness. There is a song about broken dreams and promises to make the viewer feel how Shrek is feeling, upset. The effect of having the Donkey and the Dragon crying is that it is a sad moment in the film, and you feel sympathetic towards Shrek. The filmmakers use music and sound effects to capture the atmosphere of the film.
Donkey is an essential character in the film as he helps us to understand the character of Shrek. When Donkey refuses to listen to Shrek, ignore the ‘Beware of Ogre’ sign and follow him back to the swamp. This shows that Shreks character is not as scary as you think. Donkey turns the tournament scene into a comedy by rolling barrels into knights, making them fall. This makes the scene funny. This shows us that Shreks powers to be a real ogre are not as strong as you think because he needed the Donkey’s help. Shreks relationship with Donkey is a good one because Donkey advises Shrek when he is having difficulties then decides how to deal with problems.
Donkey makes us believe that Shrek is not a typical man-eating ogre by when he returns from finding flowers Shrek and Princess are smiling at each other and says “My, isn’t this romantic.” Shrek is just a gentle giant that does not want to kill people to end problems because he does not think it will solve anything. After analyzing the characters of Shrek and Lord Farquaad, I have concluded that although Shrek seems like a traditional ogre, he is not. Shrek has the Donkey and other friends; he rescues Princess Fiona, a knight’s job and finds true love by marrying Princess Fiona.
Although Lord Farquaad looks like a lord, his actions suggest that he is evil. He tortured the gingerbread man, stole Shreks swamp, made the knights fight Shrek, and rejected the princess when he found out she became an ogre after sunset, but he still wanted to become king. He is a lazy and selfish person. The story of Shrek uses presentational devices to reverse our expectations. This makes a good film not just because of the filmmakers’ devices to influence the viewers. The viewer feels that Shrek is a far more likable character than Lord Farquaad, even though by glance does not look like he is. Lord Farquaad looks essential but is a bitter, twisted evil person.