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Shrek: A Fairytale in Disguise
by Joe Tracy, Publisher of Digital Media FX Magazine

Could it be that an animated movie which pokes fun at fairytales is actually a fairytale in disguise? After all, consider the following:

1) It has a hero in Shrek. OK, so Shrek isn't your typical hero. He is ugly ogre, many times disgusting, and could care less (so it seems) about "saving the world".

2) It has a love interest and princess. OK, so the princess has many problems of her own and doesn't act like a princess. "She is a firecracker - a little spark plug," says Cameron Diaz, who voices the princess.

3) It has a villain. OK, so the villain has some shortcomings…

What makes Shrek a classic in its own right is that it successfully pokes fun at other animated movies and past fairy tales (Pinocchio, Beauty and the Beast, Robin Hood, Peter Pan, etc.) while subtly presenting itself as a fairytale at the same time.

"Shrek kind of looks backwards at all the fairy tale traditions we grew up on, and takes great fun turning all those storytelling conventions upside down and inside out," says DreamWorks principal Jeffrey Katzenberg. The producer of Shrek, Aron Warner, is quick to add to that thought.

"We basically took every fairy tale in the book and turned it on its side," says Warner. "Nothing is sacred; every fairy tale gets roasted. These characters are ripe for parody because they're part of the cosmic consciousness, so to speak."

Shrek's power of illusion is partly contributed to writers Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio, who experienced Disney's side of fairy tales when they wrote Aladdin. To help bring the writing to life was directors Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson.

"The story is about self-acceptance and that things aren't always as they appear," says Jenson. "We definitely turn the concept of beauty on its ear, which I think is a very powerful theme."

DreamWorks calls Shrek the "first computer animated fairy tale." It may be irreverent, odd, unique, and off the wall, but deep down there is a fairy tale story in disguise which adds some of the… er… charm to the film.

"It really is an allegory in which we can find something about our own lives," says Katzenberg. "Each of our characters come to understand that there is something wonderful - warts and all - about who they are. I think that's true for all of us: that the people who ultimately come to know and love us, see the strengths inside of us. Whether you're a princess, a donkey, or even a big, green, stinky ogre, you can find love and happiness."


Joe Tracy is the publisher of Digital Media FX Magazine.

 

 
 

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