This essay will expand on the differences between Shrek and normal, more traditional fairytales. For example, in things like Jack and the beanstalk, it has a giant who chases and tries to kill the good guy (Jack). In other fairytales such as Cinderella and snow-white, the princesses marry the prince. In this essay, I will analyze the characters of Shrek and lord for quad and how they are different from the stereotypes of their kind of characters in other films.
The Character of Shrek. The film opens as if it is a traditional fairy tale story which nice soft music and the well-known beginning “once upon a time.” Then a hand ripping a page out of the book interrupts this, and a voice saying “yeah, right like that would ever happen.” Then Shrek appears, stepping out of the toilet. Modern rap music begins, and this suggests that the film does not go along the lines of the typical fairytale stereotype. When the villagers come to try to kill Shrek, he threatens and scares them by saying, “shave your liver,” and “squeeze the jelly from your eyes.” Next, he frightens them by sneaking up and telling them that ogres are “much worse” than giants. This causes all the men to become very scared and run away in fear.
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Shrek seems like a traditional ogre because he scares the villagers, and the traditional stereotype of ogres is big and scary. When the donkey and Shrek meet, Shrek tries to get rid of a donkey by roaring at him, but he is not intimidated, and he makes fun of Shrek by saying, “your breath stinks.” Donkey does not seem to get the hint that Shrek does not want him around, and he keeps asking him questions. Shrek tries to show the donkey that he is an ogre by shouting, “look at me, what am I?” However, the donkey does not seem to be impressed. He keeps irritating Shrek by bursting into his house and jumping on his sofa. This suggests that Shrek is not as scary as he first thought. When the three blind mice turn up, Shrek is ridiculed as he fails to catch them and is bitten on the ear. He shouts, “I’m a terrifying ogre,” but they still are not scared. The behaviour of the donkey and the mice tell the viewers that Shrek is not as scary as the start of the movie suggests.
When Shrek and the donkey visit duloc, they are attacked by lord far quad’s knights; instead of fighting them, Shrek offers to “settle this over a pint,” which normal ogre probably would not do. After they leave duloc to rescue Princess Fiona, the donkey continues to annoy Shrek and says that he should not have to put up with lord for quad and “pull some ogre stuff” to sort him out. However, Shrek is too soft. He jokes, saying that he should “decapitate an entire village” and “cut open their spleens.” Viewers feel like Shrek is not capable of doing this even if he wanted to. As the film progresses, we learn that Shrek is not just a big, fat, ugly ogre but is actually the complete opposite of the stereotype of an ogre.
When Shrek rescues Princess Fiona, he shakes her violently, saying, “wake up now, let’s go.” She is disappointed that there is no “romantic moment.” Initially, Shrek tries to behave threateningly to make sure everyone knows that he is a nasty ogre. Other characters see Shrek as a horrible ogre. He has to continually remind them that they should be scared because otherwise, they will not give him any respect. Lord Farquad is supposed to be a tall, dashing prince who rescues the princess and lives happily ever after. However, he is actually the bad guy in this film and does many bad things, such as watching the gingerbread man being tortured. However, he laughs and taunts him saying, “Run, run, run as fast as you can…” he tries to pull off one of the gingerbread man’s buttons.
He also throws the gingerbread man in the bin, making him scream. Lord Farquad then has three beautiful princesses to choose from, and of course, he chooses Princess Fiona. When Shrek brings Princess Fiona to duloc, lord far quad meets her very formally, saying, “Beautiful, fair, flawless Fiona, will you be the perfect bride for the perfect groom?” In the end, Lord Farquad orders the knights to “get them out of my sight.” He tells the guards to arrest Fiona when he sees her after sunset. He still proclaims himself king, even though the marriage has been abandoned. In this film, we quickly learn that the prince is not like a traditional fairy tale character because he is short ugly and evil, totally against the stereotype of a fairytale prince.
Camera shots. Camera shots are very important in Shrek because it sometimes shows how important a certain part of the movie is. At one point in the movie, Shrek scares the storybook characters, and there is a close-up on his mouth to show that he might be about to eat them. There is also a darkness to create further unease. When more storybook characters tern up at Shrek’s swamp, the low angle shot makes Shrek appear scarier and more threatening, as he looks down, towering over these characters, then they ran away. Tension is built up as lord for the quad is introduced. The first shot we see is of his hands, and he is pulling on some gloves as if he means real business. When Shrek and donkey first meet far quad, his elevated position makes him seem threatening, whereas the high angle shot used on Shrek and donkey makes them seem more venerable.
Low angle shots are used effectively to show lord farquad looking down on his subjects, Shrek and the donkey. Mid-angle shots are used when Shrek and the donkey are relaxing together, and Shrek cooked Princess Fiona a meal. This is helpful to show that the characters are on equal footing. Close-up shots are also useful for focussing the viewer’s attention on a certain character’s emotions. For example, Shrek and Fiona can both be shown happy with close-ups of them smiling. The camera moves from one person to the other. At some points of the movie, the characters are shown with their backs towards the audience to show their isolation from the other characters. An example of this is where Shrek turns his back on a donkey to signal the end of their relationship. In this film, the way camera shots are used shows us the main characters’ status in the movie.
Presentational devises. The movie is partly set in Shrek’s swamp, which is traditional for an ogre’s home. However, the donkey follows Shrek into the swamp and even tries to make a home there, which shows that it is not as unwelcoming a site as it should be. In lord farquad’s castle, there is a many-hooded figure there, and there is a torture chamber where they torture the gingerbread man. There is also a fight in the courtyard of the castle. This shows that a castle is actually a place of violence and secrecy instead of a place of splendour. The settings in the film are not traditional because a swamp is a place where no one would want to go, and a castle is a place of splendour. Instead, it is the opposite.
When the princess leaves Shrek at dusk, he feels alone; his isolation is emphasized by him turning his back, as we have already talked about, and sitting in the dark. After Shrek has met the princess, he is often pictured by the sunset. Whenever Shrek and the princess are together, it is sunny, and the birds are chipping. At the end of the movie, there is a lot of light to show goodness. Lighting in the film is used to show the characters’ emotions and what is going on in the movie. For example, when it is a sad scene, it starts to rain. When we first see lord farquad and the hooded figure, dramatic marching music suggests battle. When Shrek enters, the arena there is organ music playing, which suggests that the tournament is very important. When Shrek misinterprets the conversation between Fiona and the donkey, there is slow music, which reflects Shrek’s unhappiness. When Shrek goes home, there is a song about “broken dreams.”
All the heroes in the movie are sad. The filmmakers use music and sound effects well to show how the characters are feeling and if it is a sad or happy part of the movie. When the donkey first meets Shrek, he follows him back to his swamp and ignores the “beware of ogre” signs. Donkey refuses to listen to Shrek’s advice to leave him alone. He lightens the atmosphere. At the tournament, he makes parts funny, like when he rolls the barrels onto the knights. When the donkey returns after he has found some flowers, he looks at Shrek and Fiona smiling at each other, and he says, “why isn’t this romantic.” All the way through the film, he acts as Shrek’s adviser, and he listens to him when Shrek is having difficulties. Donkey is an important character because he shows us that Shrek is not a very scary ogre; he is totally the opposite.
Conclusion. The question that I have been trying to answer is, “In traditional fairy tales, ogres are man-eating beasts. The prince usually rescues the princess; they marry and live happily ever after. How do the makers of Shrek use presentational devices to reverse this tradition, to reveal the ogre as good and the prince as bad?” This film was not only successful for the characters but the presentational devices as well. The filmmakers have reversed the traditional fairy tale to make Shrek by making the ogre good and the prince bad.