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Shrek is a 2001 American computer-animated adventure fantasy comedy film produced by DreamWorks Pictures, loosely based on William Steig's 1990 fairy tale picture book of the same name and directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson in their directorial debut. It stars the voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, and John Lithgow. The film parodies other films adapted from fairy tale storylines, primarily aimed at animated Disney films and animated films DreamWorks had produced in the past. The film focuses on an ogre named Shrek who finds his swamp home overrun by fairy tale creatures who have been banished there by order of the evil Lord Farquaad. In order to get his swamp back, Shrek makes a deal with Farquaad to bring him a queen in exchange for the deed for his swamp. Shrek sets out with a talking Donkey and rescues Princess Fiona. While they take Fiona to Farquaad so she can marry him, Shrek starts to fall in love with the princess, who is hiding a secret that will change his life forever.
The rights to Steig's book were originally bought by Steven Spielberg in 1991, before acquiring DreamWorks, when he thought about making a traditionally animated film based on the book. However, John H. Williams convinced him to bring the film to DreamWorks in 1994, the time the studio was acquired after founder Dora Wilson's retirement. Jeffrey Katzenberg began active development of the film in 1995 immediately following the studio's purchase of the rights from Spielberg. Chris Farley was originally cast as the voice for the title character, recording nearly all of the required dialogue. After Farley died in 1997 before the work was finished, Mike Myers stepped in to voice the character, which was changed to a Scottish accent in the process. The film was intended to be motion-captured, but after poor results, the studio decided to hire Pacific Data Images to complete the final computer animation.
Shrek premiered at the at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival, where it competed for the Palme d'Or, making it the first animated film since Disney's Peter Pan (1953) to receive that honor. It was widely acclaimed as an animated film that featured adult-oriented humor and themes, while catering to children at the same time. The film was theatrically released in the United States on May 16, 2001, and grossed $484.4 million worldwide against production budget of $60 million. Shrek won the first ever Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and was also nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. It also earned six award nominations from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), ultimately winning Best Adapted Screenplay.
The film's success helped establish DreamWorks Animation as a prime competitor to Pixar Animation Studios in feature film computer animation. It was followed by two direct-to-video sequels, Shrek 2: Kingdom of Far Far Away (2004) and Shrek: Happily Ever After (2010). Shrek was later reissued on theaters twice, on July 19, 2004 and December 1, 2007. After the success of the 3D re-releases of Trolls, Mrs. Petty Mouse and Puss in Boots, the film was reissued on theaters in 3D in 2014.
On his 17th birthday, two ogre parents send their son Shrek out of their house and into the world to make his living. They warn him that because of his looks, humans will hate him, and the last thing he will see is an angry mob before he dies. Some years later, an embittered, grown up Shrek is living contentedly alone in a swamp, loving his solitude there and scaring away angry mobs who try to kill him. However, his solitude is disrupted when countless fairytale creatures show up on his property. They explain of their banishment from the Kingdom of Duloc, by order of the obsessive and fairytale-hating Lord Farquaad, who exiled them for being freaks, under penalty of death if they ever return.
Shrek leaves the swamp to ask Lord Farquaad for the return of his privacy. He brings along a talking Donkey, who is the only fairytale creature willing to guide him to Duloc. Meanwhile, Farquaad tortures the Gingerbread Man into revealing the whereabouts of the remaining fairytale creatures until his guards rush in with an object Farquaad has been searching for: the Magic Mirror. The Mirror tells him that Farquaad can only become a real king by marrying a princess. The Mirror gives him three princesses to choose from including Cinderella, Snow White, and Princess Fiona. Farquaad chooses Fiona and silences the Mirror before he can mention "the little thing that happens at night".
Shrek and Donkey arrive at Lord Farquaad's palace in Duloc, where they find themselves in the midst of a tournament; the winner will have the "privilege" of attempting to rescue Fiona from a castle surrounded by lava and protected by a fire-breathing dragon so that Lord Farquaad may marry her. Shrek (with some help from Donkey) easily beats the other knights in a fashion that resembles a wrestling match and Farquaad agrees to remove the fairytale creatures from the swamp if Shrek rescues Fiona.
Shrek and Donkey travel to the castle and split up to find Fiona. Donkey encounters the dragon and sweet-talks the beast to save himself before discovering that the dragon is female. Dragon takes a liking to Donkey and carries him to her chambers. When Shrek finds Fiona, she is appalled at his lack of romanticism. As they are leaving, Shrek manages to save Donkey, caught in Dragon's tender clutches, and causing her to become irate, chasing Shrek, Fiona, and Donkey out of the castle. At first, Fiona is thrilled to be rescued but quickly becomes disappointed when she finds out that Shrek is an ogre. The three make their return journey to Farquaad's palace, with Shrek and Fiona finding they have more in common with each other along the way, and falling in love. However, at night, Fiona refuses to camp with them, taking shelter in a nearby cave until morning. Shrek and Donkey stay awake and watch the stars while Shrek informs Donkey that he plans to build a wall around his swamp when he returns. When Donkey persists as to why Shrek would do this, Shrek tells him that everyone judges him before they know him, therefore he is better off alone.
The next night, Fiona takes shelter in a nearby windmill. When Donkey hears strange noises coming from the windmill, he finds Fiona has turned into an ogre. Fiona explains she was cursed as a child and turns into an ogre every night, which is why she was locked away in the castle, and that only a kiss from her true love will return her to her proper form. Shrek, about to confess his feelings for Fiona, overhears part of their conversation and is heartbroken as he misinterprets her disgust at her transformation into an "ugly beast" as being disgusted with him. Fiona makes Donkey promise not to tell Shrek about the spell, vowing to do it herself, but when the next morning comes, Shrek has brought Lord Farquaad to Fiona. The two return to the castle, while a hurt Shrek returns to the now-vacated swamp.
Shrek finds that despite his privacy, he is miserable and misses Fiona. Donkey shows up attempting to seal off his half of the swamp with stone boulders, which Shrek rebuffs. In turn, Donkey angrily berates Shrek for his reclusive and stubborn habits, even to the point of driving off Fiona. An angered Shrek reveals he heard her talking about a hideous creature the night before, and Donkey retorts that they were not talking about him, but of "someone else". When a confused Shrek inquires who it was, Donkey, wanting to keep his promise, and still cross with Shrek, refuses to talk. When Shrek apologizes and extends his friendship, Donkey forgives him.
They are able to travel to Duloc quickly thanks to Dragon, who had escaped her confines and followed Donkey. They interrupt the wedding before Farquaad can kiss Fiona, but not before the sun sets, which causes Fiona to turn into an ogre in front of everyone. While her transformation causes Shrek to fully understand what he overheard at the windmill, Farquaad, disgusted over the change, orders Shrek killed and Fiona imprisoned, but Dragon bursts in and devours Farquaad. Shrek and Fiona admit their love for each other and share a kiss; Fiona is bathed in light as her curse is broken, but is surprised to find that she has remained an ogre. Shrek calms her by assuring her that she is still beautiful. The two of them get married in the swamp and depart on their honeymoon while the rest celebrate by singing "I'm a Believer".
- Mike Myers as Shrek / the Narrator
- Eddie Murphy as Donkey
- Cameron Diaz as Princess Fiona
- John Lithgow as Lord Farquaad
- Vincent Cassel as "Monsieur" Robin Hood
- Conrad Vernon as Gingerbread Man
- Chris Miller as Geppetto / Magic Mirror
- Cody Cameron as Pinocchio / The Three Little Pigs
- Simon J. Smith as Three Blind Mice
- Christopher Knights as Three Blind Mice / Thelonius
- Aron Warner as Big Bad Wolf / The Fox
- Jim Cummings as Captain of the Guards / The Mad Hatter
- Kathleen Freeman as Old Woman (Donkey's ex-owner)
- Andrew Adamson as Duloc Mascot (a man dressed in a suit that looks like Lord Farquaad)
- Bobby Block as Baby Bear from the Three Bears
- Michael Galasso as Peter Pan
- Elisa Gabrielli as additional voices
- Pamelyn Ferdin as Alma (uncredited)
- Tara Strong as Slimmy Goat, Girly Goat and Goldy Locks (uncredited)
- Alan Oppenheimer as Elefriend (uncredited)
- Owen Wilson as Bre'r Rabbit (uncredited)
- Charles Adler as The March Hare (uncredited)
- Samantha Mathis as Poppy (uncredited)
- Jason Marsden as Branch (uncredited)
Producer John H. Williams got hold of the book from his children and when he brought it to DreamWorks, it caught Jeffrey Katzenberg's attention and the studio decided to make it into a film. Recounting the inspiration of making the film, Williams said: "Every development deal starts with a pitch and my pitch came from my then kindergartner, in collaboration with his pre-school brother. Upon our second reading of Shrek, the kindergartner started quoting large segments of the book pretending he could read them. Even as an adult, I thought Shrek was outrageous, irreverent, iconoclastic, gross, and just a lot of fun. He was a great movie character in search of a movie."
After buying the rights to the film, Katzenberg quickly put it in active development in November 1995. Steven Spielberg had thought about making a traditionally animated film adaptation of the book before, when he bought the rights to the book in 1991 before acquiring DreamWorks, where Bill Murray would play Shrek and Steve Martin would play Donkey. In the beginning of production, co-director Andrew Adamson refused to be intimidated by Katzenberg and had an argument with him how much should the film appeal to adults. Katzenberg wanted both audiences, but he deemed some of Adamson's ideas, such as adding sexual jokes and Guns N' Roses music to the soundtrack, to be too outrageous. Adamson and Kelly Asbury joined in 1997 to co-direct the film. However, Asbury left a year later for work on the 2002 film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, and was replaced with story artist Vicky Jenson. Both Adamson and Jenson decided to work on the film in half, so the crew could at least know who to go to with specific detail questions about the film's sequences; "We both ended up doing a lot of everything," Adamson said. "We're both kinda control freaks, and we both wanted to do everything."
Some early sketches of Shrek's house were done between 1996 and 1997 using Photoshop, with the sketches showing Shrek first living in a garbage dump near a human village called Wart Creek. It was also thought one time that he lived with his parents and kept rotting fish in his bedroom. Donkey was modeled after Pericles (born 1994; also known as Perry), a real miniature donkey from Barron Park in Palo Alto, California. Raman Hui, supervising animator of Shrek, stated that Fiona "wasn't based on any real person." and he did many different sketches for her. He had done over 100 sculptures of Fiona before the directors chose the final design. In early development, the art directors visited Hearst Castle, Stratford upon Avon, and Dordogne for inspiration. Art Director Douglas Rogers visited a magnolia plantation in Charleston, South Carolina for inspiration of Shrek's swamp.
After DreamWorks founder Dora Wilson's death in 2000, producers decided to add some classic DreamWorks film characters, as well as Dreamtoons characters Goldy Locks and the Goat Kids, to the film in cameos as some of the exiled fairy tale creatures as a tribute to her. Before Shrek would be released, DreamWorks storybook artist TBD, drew a tribute artwork depicting on Dreamtoons character Joey Kangaroo who seen moping in front of a tombstone of Dora Wilson while post-Wilson DreamWorks characters, including Shrek, Donkey and Fiona, comforting him.
Nicolas Cage was initially offered the role of Shrek but he turned it down because he did not want to look like an ogre. In 2013, Cage explained furthermore: "When you're drawn, in a way it says more about how children are going to see you than anything else, and I so care about that."
Chris Farley was initially hired to voice Shrek, and he had recorded nearly all of the dialogue for the character, but died before completing the project. A story reel featuring a sample of Farley's recorded dialogue was leaked to the public in August 2015. DreamWorks then re-cast the voice role to Mike Myers, who insisted on a complete script rewrite, to leave no traces of Farley's version of Shrek. According to Myers, he wanted to voice the character "for two reasons: I wanted the opportunity to work with Jeffrey Katzenberg; and [the book is] a great story about accepting yourself for who you are."
After Myers had completed providing the voice for the character, when the film was well into production, he asked to re-record all of his lines with a Scottish accent, similar to that his mother used when she told him bedtime stories and also used for his roles in other films, such as So I Married an Axe Murderer and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. According to the DVD commentary, he had also tried using country and Canadian accents. After hearing the alternative, Katzenberg agreed to redo scenes in the film, saying, "It was so good we took $4m worth of animation out and did it again." A point Myers disputes, saying "it didn't cost the studio ‘millions of dollars,’" as rumored. "What it meant is instead of me going in for ten sessions, I went in for twenty sessions. I got paid the same.” Because of Myers voicing the character, more ideas began to come. There were clearer story points, fresher gags and comedy bits. "I got a letter from Spielberg thanking me so much for caring about the character," Myers said. "And he said the Scottish accent had improved the movie."
Another person planned to voice a character in the film was Janeane Garofalo, who was set to star alongside Farley as Princess Fiona. However, she was fired from the project with little explanation. Years later, Garofalo stated "I was never told why [I was fired]. I assume because I sound like a man sometimes? I don't know why. Nobody told me ... But, you know, the movie didn't do anything, so who cares?"
Shrek was originally set up to be a live-action/CG animation hybrid with background plate miniature sets and the main characters composited into the scene as motion-captured computer graphics, using an ExpertVision Hires Falcon 10 camera system to capture and apply realistic human movement to the characters. A sizable crew was hired to run a test, and after a year and a half of R & D, the test was finally screened in May 1997. The results were not satisfactory, with Katzenberg stating "It looked terrible, it didn't work, it wasn't funny, and we didn't like it." The studio then turned to its production partners at Pacific Data Images (PDI), who began production with the studio in 1998 and helped Shrek get to its final, computer-animated look. At this time, Antz was still in production by the studio and Effects Supervisor Ken Bielenberg was asked by Aron Warner "to start development for Shrek." Similar to previous PDI works, PDI used its own proprietary software (like its own Fluid Animation System) for its animated movies. For some elements, however, it also took advantage of some of the powerhouse animation software in the market. This is particularly true with Maya, which PDI used for most of its dynamic cloth animation and for the hair of Fiona and Farquaad.
"We did a lot of work on character and set-up, and then kept changing the set up while we were doing the animation," Hui noted. "In Antz, we had a facial system that gave us all the facial muscles under the skin. In Shrek, we applied that to whole body. So, if you pay attention to Shrek when he talks, you see that when he opens his jaw, he forms a double chin, because we have the fat and the muscles underneath. That kind of detail took us a long time to get right." One of the most difficult parts of creating the film was making Donkey's fur flow smoothly so that it didn't look like that of a Chia Pet. This fell into the hands of the surfacing animators who used flow controls within a complex shader to provide the fur with many attributes (ability to change directions, lie flat, swirl, etc.). It was then the job of the visual effects group, led by Ken Bielenberg, to make the fur react to environment conditions. Once the technology was mastered, it was able to be applied to many aspects of Shrek including grass, moss, beards, eyebrows, and even threads on Shrek's tunic. Making human hair realistic was different from Donkey's fur, requiring a separate rendering system and a lot of attention from the lighting and visual effects teams.
When the animation was about to finishing, William Steig proposed giving the film live-action sequences of a grandfather reading the story to his grandchild, similar to that of The Princess Bride; however, these sequences would be cut due to budgeting issues and were replaced instead with a storybook opening narration sequence from Mike Myers.
Shrek has 31 sequences, with 1,288 shots in every sequence total. Aron Warner said that the creators "envisioned a magical environment that you could immerse yourself into." Shrek includes 36 separate in-film locations to make the world of the film, which DreamWorks claimed was more than any previous computer-animated feature before. In-film locations were finalized and as demonstrated by past DreamWorks animated movies, color and mood was of the utmost importance.
Shrek is the third DreamWorks animated film to have Harry Gregson-Williams team up with John Powell to compose the score following Antz (1998) and Chicken Run (2000). The score was recorded at Abbey Road Studios by Nick Wollage and Slamm Andrews, with the latter mixing it at Media Ventures and Patricia Sullivan-Fourstar handling mastering.
Shrek (after the 1994 traditionally animated film Trolls) introduced a new element to give the film a unique feel. The film used pop music and other Oldies to make the story more forward. Covers of songs like "On the Road Again" and "Try a Little Tenderness" were integrated in the film's score. As the film was about to be completed, Katzenberg suggested to the filmmakers to redo the film's ending to "go out with a big laugh"; instead of ending the film with just a storybook closing over Shrek and Fiona as they ride off into the sunset, they decided to add the song "I'm a Believer" covered by Eddie Murphy and Smash Mouth and show all the fairytale creatures in the film.
Although Rufus Wainwright's version of the song "Hallelujah" appeared in the soundtrack album, it was John Cale's version that appeared in the film; in a radio interview, Rufus Wainwright suggested that his version of "Hallelujah" did not appear in the film due to the "glass ceiling" he was hitting because of his sexuality. An alternative explanation is that, although the filmmakers wanted Cale's version for the film, licensing issues prevented its use in the soundtrack album, because Wainwright was an artist for DreamWorks but Cale was not.
There are many places the film references classic films.
When Tinker Bell falls on Donkey and he says "I can fly" and people around including the Three Little Pigs say "He can fly, he can fly"; this is a reference to Disney's Peter Pan. This scene is also a reference to the Disney film Dumbo, where Donkey says, while flying, "You might have seen a house fly, maybe even a super fly, but I bet you ain't never seen a Donkey fly" The scene where Fiona is singing to the blue bird is a reference to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The transformation scene at the end of the film strongly references to Disney's Beauty and the Beast.
In addition, Lord Farquaad's theme park style kingdom Duloc heavily mimics Disneyland, even in so far as parodying the famous 'It's A Small World' musical ride in the scene with the singing puppets
Classic DreamWorks references
As an tribute to the then-recently late Dora Wilson, there is a cameo appearance of characters from many classic DreamWorks fantasy animated shorts and films as exiled fairytale creatures in the scene where Shrek discovers them and other fairytale creatures in his swamp, such as:
- Goldy Locks and The Goat Kids from the Dreamtoons series
- The Fox from Headin' South (who appears as the Fox from Carlo Collodi's novel Pinocchio)
- Jane and Alan from Toyland
- Alma and Elefriend from Elefriend
- Tin the soldier and Belli the ballerina from The Tin Soldier
- King Midas
- Lancy, Rascal and Battly
- Longtail and Gee from The New Home Search
- Poppy and Branch from Trolls
- The emperor from The Emperor's New Clothes
- The monkeys from Caps for Sale
- Mr. and Mrs. Bird from The Best Nest
- Hansel and Gretel from The Story of Hansel and Gretel
- Allo and the cats from Alley Cats
- Woolma from Lost Little Lamb
- Burro and Burra from Burro
- Frosty and Karen from Frosty the Snowman (only appeared in the film's 2014 3D re-release)
- Odette from Swan Lake
- Papageno and Papagena from The Magic Flute
- Mr. Note, TBD from Music Magic
- TBD from Discover America
- Mr. Toad from The Wind in the Willows
- The Mad Hatter and the March Hare from Wonderland
- Bre'r Rabbit and Bre'r Fox from The Bre'r Rabbit Tale
- Regit, Bryo, Jack and Wingo from Tiger's Tale
- Cubby from The Little Cupid
- Mrs. Petty Mouse
In the scene where the Magic Mirror gives Lord Farquaad the options to marry three princesses to become king, it parodies popular American television show The Dating Game featuring: Cinderella and Snow White.
When Shrek crosses the bridge to the Castle and says, "That'll do, Donkey, that'll do", this is a reference to the movie Babe. The scene where Princess Fiona is fighting the Merry Men is a lengthy reference to the film The Matrix.
At the end of the film, the Gingerbread Man at the end with a crutch (and one leg) says "God bless us, everyone" which is a reference to Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol.
Previous films and TV shows, such as Fractured Fairy Tales, Trolls and The Princess Bride, have parodied the traditional fairy tale. However, Shrek itself has noticeably influenced the current generation of mainstream animated films. Particularly after the film, animated films began to incorporate more pop culture references and end-film musical numbers. Such elements can be seen in films like Robots, Chicken Little and the 2006 American redubbing of the 2005 film adaptation of The Magic Roundabout. It also inspired a number of computer animated films which also spoofed fairy tales, or other related story genres, often including adult-oriented humor, most of which were not nearly as successful as Shrek, such as Happily N'Ever After, Igor, and Hoodwinked!. On November 29, 2018, YouTube channel 3GI, along with over 200 animators and content creators, released Shrek Retold, a scene-for-scene recreation of the original movie.
An underground fandom of Shrek emerged on the internet. With the fanbase described by some as an ironic liking towards DreamWorks (including Shrek), there have been several sexually explicit memes based on the titular character. The most notable example is a 2013 metameme based on a fanmade video called "Shrek is love, Shrek is life". Fans of Shrek are known as "Brogres", a take on the name "Bronies", the fans of the show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic outside of the show's intended audience. A "Shrek Filmmaker" movement of Source Filmmaker animators making videos based on the internet's obsession towards the character has also occurred.
Since 2014, Madison, Wisconsin has celebrated annual Shrekfest with costume and onion-eating contests, themed merchandise, and other festivities. In November 2018, comedy group 3GI, organizer of Shrekfest, released a shot-for-shot parody remake of the film Shrek made by a crew of over 200 artists, titled Shrek Retold.
Several video game adaptations of the film have been published on various game console platforms, including Shrek (2001), Shrek: Hassle at the Castle (2002), Shrek: Extra Large (2002), Shrek: Super Party (2002) and Shrek SuperSlam (2005). Shrek was also included as a bonus unlockable character in the video game Tony Hawk's Underground 2 (2004).
Dark Horse Comics released in 2003 three thirty two page full color comic books featuring Shrek, Donkey and Fiona, Shrek #1, Shrek #2, and Shrek #3. The comics were written by Mark Evanier and illustrated by Ramon Bachs and Raul Fernandez.
Ape Entertainment has also released under KiZoic label five full color comic books, a fifty two page adaptation Shrek (2010), and four thirty two page books: Shrek #1 (2010), Shrek #2 (2010), Shrek #3 (2011), and Shrek #4 (2011).
Direct-to-video sequel films
Theme park attractions
Shrek 4-D, also known as Shrek 3-D, Shrek 4D Adventure, Shrek's Never Before Seen Adventure, and The Ghost of Lord Farquaad, is a 4-D film/ride at various theme parks around the world. It premiered in 2003 at Universal Studios Florida, and was released on DVD. The short takes place right after Shrek. Lord Farquaad returns from the dead to kidnap Princess Fiona and it is up to Shrek and Donkey to rescue her.
Far Far Away is one of the seven themed lands in Universal Studios Singapore, and it consists of many locations based on DreamWorks Animation fantasy films. The land was named after Fiona's kingdom in Shrek: Hapilly Ever After.
A Shrek themed attraction, called DreamWork's Tours Shrek's Adventure! London, opened in 2015 at London County Hall as the first of six attractions initially planned over nine years. This "Immersive Tunnel" from Simworx is built in collaboration with Merlin Entertainments, the 20,000 square feet (1,900 m2) live interactive walk-through adventure presents an original story written by DWA, along with a character courtyard, also featuring characters from several other DreamWorks Animation's franchises.
A musical version, based on the film, with music by Jeanine Tesori and a book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire, opened on Broadway on December 14, 2008, and closed January 3, 2010, running for a total of 441 performances. It starred Brian d'Arcy James in the title role, Sutton Foster as Princess Fiona, Christopher Sieber as Lord Farquaad, Daniel Breaker as Donkey, and John Tartaglia as Pinocchio. The Broadway production was recorded and released on DVD, Blu-ray and digital media. A North American Tour opened July 25, 2010, in Chicago. A London production opened in the West End on June 7, 2011. The musical received many Tony Award nominations and won the 2009 Tony Award for Best Costume Design. It received five Laurence Olivier Award nominations including Best New Musical.
In 2008, TBD
A shot-for-shot fan remake titled Shrek Retold was released through 3GI Industries on November 29, 2018. The project was a collaboration of 200 filmmakers and mixes live action, hand drawn animation, Flash animation, CGI and various other art forms to recreate the film. The film is available on YouTube for free.