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In traditional fairytales 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 evil? Shrek is obviously not a stereotypical fairytale because of its language and the features of the characters. The characters aren’t what they seem to be. Shrek is an ogre who is supposed to be bad and cruel, they are uncivilised just like the ogre in Jack and the beanstalk; he chases Jack saying ‘fee fie foe fum; I smell the blood of an Englishman’.
The princess is supposed to be in distress and desperate to be saved. They have a beautiful voice which is supposed to attract the prince and they are normally scared and not demanding at a stage of crisis. The prince which in this case is Lord Farquaad is supposed to be kind, charming and his main job is to rescue and marry the princess. In Shrek the whole idea of a fairytale has been turned around by making the ogre Shrek the good guy the Lord Farquaad the bad guy and Princess Fiona not a damsel in distress. The filmmakers use a different technique to make the ogre seem good and the lord seems bad.
To make this successful they used language, camera shots at different angles and special effects such as sounds and light effects. The film starts of with a traditional beginning with the usual ‘once upon a time, there was a lovely princess. But she had an enchantment upon her of a fearful sort that could only be broken by true love’s kiss. She was locked in the highest room in the tallest tower, guarded by a terrible fire-breathing dragon. Many brave knights tried to free her from this dreadful prison, but none prevailed. So she sat in her tower and waited for true love, and true love’s first kiss.
‘ and the soft slow music in the background. Shrek then rips that page and wipes his bottom saying, ‘like that’s ever going to happen’, with a Scottish accent. He then bangs the toilet door and then you notice a change in music and atmosphere. There is a sought of rock and roll music which suggest to the viewers that Shrek is not going to be a movie that they had expected it to be like. This is the first clue given to us about what the story is going to be like. This opening breaks all the rules of fairytales because in Cinderella, sleeping beauty and snow white they all have a similar beginning.
‘ Once upon a time there lived a princess who…… ‘ the fairytale kept to a same rhythm and only if the princess sang then there would be a change in sound. They all had the same story line; the princess is either put to sleep or locked away by a witch or someone evil. The prince is handsome and is only there to fight the dragon or any evil creature to save the princess they kiss, marry and live happily ever after, the witch or the evil person is either killed or locked the end. But Shrek’s opening is original and something new for the viewer’s eyes.
The part when Shrek says, ‘like that’s ever going to happen’ starts the turning point in this story. By the time the introduction music is over the viewers know that they are not fated for a conventional story. When the villagers come to attack Shrek he just stays calm and tells them, ‘Now ogres, they’re much worse. They’ll make a suit from your freshly peeled skin. They’ll shave your liver, squeeze the jelly from your eyes. Actually, it’s quite good on toast. ‘ This bit tells us that Shrek is bad and that he will kill all these innocent people.
But then we see a change in the character because he says, ‘This is the part where you run away. ‘ This shows us that Shrek is good and this is quite odd because they are supposed to be evil. When the donkey approaches Shrek roars at him and tries to intimidate him, the donkey is not frightened but instead he laughs at him saying, ‘Wow, that was really scary and if you don’t mind me saying, if that don’t work, your breath will certainly get the job done, ’cause you definitely need some Tic Tacs or something ’cause your breath STINKS.
‘ This shows that Donkey is not afraid of Shrek and that he has the courage to tell the big ogre about his negative things. Donkey is immediately liked by the audience because of his sense of humor. Donkey can see straight through Shrek and knows that he would not hurt anybody. The audience also finds this out when he saves Donkey from the guards, this shows us that Shrek has a heart and is not like normal ogres are; man-eating beasts. The Donkey irritates Shrek by following him to his house and then criticizing a place, ‘Whoa.
Look at that. Who’d wanna live in a place like that? ‘ which is supposed to be Shrek’s home, That would be my home. ‘ Donkey then tries to reverse things around by saying, ‘Oh and it is LOVELY. You know, you’re really quite a decorator. It’s amazing what you’ve done with such a modest budget. I like that boulder. That is a NICE boulder. ‘ This shows that Donkey would do anything to stay with Shrek and he is a funny character who can be loved by anybody. He then intimidates him by running in his house and peering in the window.
After Shrek allows him to stay for one night he starts says, ‘Thank you! Oh this is gonna be fun! We can stay up late, swap manly stories and in the morning, I’m making waffles. ‘ But in the end he stays outside the house because Shrek does not want him to stay. This makes us feel sorry for Donkey and at this bit we sympathize on him making him feel venerable and not care for the ogre feelings. We think that Shrek is rude and selfish for not sharing his house for one day with Donkey.