Use of Presentational Devices in Shrek to Reverse the Traditional Fairytale Incomplete Essay In traditional fairytales, ogres are man-eating beasts. The prince
usually rescues the princess, they marry and live happily every 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?
In this essay I am going to analyse the characters of Shrek and Lord
Farquaad and write about how the makers of the film use different
presentational devices to create an unusual fairy tale.
In traditional fairy tales, Ogres are man-eating beasts. The Prince
usually kills the Ogre, rescues the Princess, marry and live happily
ever after. In ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’, Jack’s mother is the heroine
as she cuts down the beanstalk and kills the Giant whereas the Giant
is the beast trying to eat Jack.
In Snow White, the evil character is Snow White’s ‘Evil’ Step-Mother
and the Prince is the hero who rescues Snow White.
In Shrek, the roles are reversed using presentational devices so that
Shrek (the Ogre) is soon seen as the sensitive hero and the Prince as
the evil selfish beast.
When the storybook characters arrive Shrek tries to threaten them by
showing them that he is a scary, evil monster. There are too many
storybook characters for him to scare away so he asks why the
characters had arrived and finds out that the characters where forced
to stay on his land. Shrek goes to see Lord Farquaad to get rid of the
characters for his own benefit. When Shrek tells the storybook
characters that he is going to get them off his land, they all applaud
which suggests that Shrek is a hero.
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 films. The film ‘Shrek’ opens with Shrek reading out a fairy tale
making you believe that he is the narrator and the film is going to be
a traditional fairy tale but the scene is soon turned into a joke when
Shrek uses the story book as toilet paper. This is different to a
conventional fairy tale as it is more comical. The opening suggests
that the film will be comical and there will be many jokes about
traditional fairy tales. Viewers would be surprised as fairy tales
have never been ‘taken the mick of’ like in Shrek.
When Donkey approaches, Shrek roars at him and tries to intimidate
him, Donkey isn’t frightened as he doesn’t judge Shrek by his looks
and believes that Shrek and himself are very similar. Donkey
continuously irritates Shrek by being a ‘chatterbox’ and disrespecting
Shrek’s home. When the three blind mice tease Shrek, it is funny
because Shrek is a big, strong Ogre and three tiny blind mice are
Donkey’s behaviour and the mice’s behaviour suggest that Shrek is not
the typical scary Ogre that he seems to be. Donkey and the three mice
did not fear Shrek at all.
Shrek and Donkey visit the castle, to try and reclaim Shrek’s swamp from
Lord Farquaad. Donkey thinks that Shrek is too kind and should not
have to ask as the swamp belongs to him anyway. Donkey tells Shrek
that he should be more violent and just take his swamp back. When
Shrek is about to be attacked by the knights, he tries to settle the
dispute as a last resort to non-violence. This suggests
that although Shrek is a large strong character, he does not want to
resort to violence.
When Shrek breaks into the castle to rescue Princess Fiona, he acts
like an Ogre when he greets the Princess. Instead of waking her with a
kiss like a Prince would do, he shakes her till she wakes up and
carries her around disrespectfully. The Princess is angry that the
knight that has come to rescue her is not following traditions. This
suggests that the Princess was hoping for a traditional Prince.
Although Shrek appears violent, when we learn that he has failed to
slay the dragon because it is on his ‘to-do list’. This suggests that
Shrek would rather not kill the dragon, as that would require
violence. Shrek just wants to rescue the Princess without resulting in
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. He
tries to make them frightened by reminding them that he is an Ogre.
Although Shrek is an Ogre, he is not a typical Ogre as he tries not to
be violent and shows that he has feelings too.
In contrast to Shrek Lord Farquaad is cruel. He watches the torture of
the Gingerbread Man, and then Lord Farquaad taunts him showing that he
is cruel. He tortures the Gingerbread Man himself by taking off his
buttons and putting him in milk. The gingerbread calls him ‘a monster’
and Lord Farquaad throws the gingerbread man in the bin. By watching
this scene it gives you a really bad impression and makes you think
that he is not the typical fairy tale Prince.
Lord Farquaad is all set to marry Princess Fiona, until he sees that
when the sun sets, she is an Ogre-like creature. Lord Farquaad speaks
to her in a cruel way, and he orders his knights to ‘Get that thing
out of my sight.’ Lord Farquaad calls off the wedding, but he still
proclaims himself King. Lord Farquaad is deceptive because he should
only be king if he marries a Princess. He wanted to marry a Princess
only so he could become king and have power and authority. 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 by roaring at them.
There is a close up of Shrek’s face to show his scary expression.
Close up shots are also useful for focusing the viewer’s attention on
the characters emotions. An example of when a close up is effective is
when Shrek and Princess Fiona have their romance scene. Close ups of
their facial expressions show that they are in love.
Tension is created when Lord Farquaad is introduced. Instead of
focusing on his face, the camera shows parts of his upper body and his
This suggests that he is a big important Prince as it shows close ups
of him striding along very proudly.
When Shrek visits Lord Farquaad castle, the camera moves from ground
level and then upwards to reveal his tower. It is useful because it
makes Lord Farquaad seem big and Shrek and Donkey appear small.
Low angle shots are effectively used because they show Lord Farquaad
looking down on Shrek and Donkey whereas in the tournament scene they
show Shrek looking up to Lord Farquaad who is sitting high in his
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
of the characters at the same time and have the effect of romance.
Sometimes, a character’s back is shown rather than their face. This is
used to suggest isolation from other characters. For example when Princess Fiona leaves Shrek to go inside the cave. She turned her back and walked away at a fast pace. She did this because she didn’t want Shrek and Donkey to ask anymore questions. Another example is when
Shrek turns his back to Donkey to try and show him that there
friendship is over.
Presentational devices are also used to influence the viewer, and to
make them see a particular character in a certain way. The story
begins in Shrek’s swamp. You see it as a muddy, grotty place to live
and you would expect this to be the home of an Ogre, which it is. You
see Shrek bathe in mud and do other disgusting things which will make
you believe that Shrek is like a typical Ogre. Donkey only goes to the
swamp because he has nowhere else to go. Lord Farquaad lives in a big,
beautiful castle in which you would expect to see a happy, splendid
castle but instead there is torture, hooded figures and violence.
When we first meet Shrek, it is obvious that he is supposed to look
like an Ogre because he is green; he has peculiar ears and a deformed
face. He lives in a dirty swamp and he is very unhygienic.
Lord Farquaad seems like a typical Lord. He wears expensive clothes
that you would expect a Prince to wear, he lives in a castle and he
would become a king if he marries a Princess.
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
as it brings your attention to the moon which is effective as it adds
a certain romance to the scene.
The images of light are used thoughtfully too. Shrek and Princess
Fiona are often pictured walking through meadows. They are pictured
walking through the woods on a sunny day, with birds chirping and the
Princess chirping to show that the Princess and her surroundings are
all happy even though they are in the presence of an Ogre.
The brilliant light at the end suggests that something very magical
and tremendous is happening. The light is so bright that it broke all
the cathedral windows.
When we first meet Lord Farquaad, and the hooded figure, there is
marching music. The music tells the viewer that something fearful and
of importance is coming.
When Shrek overhears the conversation between Donkey and Princess
Fiona, he misunderstands the conversation. At this moment, the music
is slow. The slow music is suggesting that the scene is sad and
There is a song about broken dreams and promises to show everyone in
the scene is sad and heartbroken. The effect of having Donkey and the
dragon crying is to show that during that scene, everyone is unhappy.
Donkey is an important character in the film, as he helps us to
understand the character of Shrek. When Donkey refuses to listen to
Shrek, ignores the ‘Beware of the Ogre’ sign, and follows him back to
the swamp, it shows us that Shrek does get slightly irritated but he
is too soft to get rid of Donkey permanently. Donkey turns the
tournament scene into a comedy because of his fighting techniques. The
tournament shows us Shrek’s power of being a real Ogre as he easily
beats Lord Faquaad’s best knights but he becomes the ‘hero’ in Duloc
and not a big scary Ogre.
Shrek’s relationship with Donkey is very odd because they are two
completely different characters who slowly build up a friendship
together. Donkey makes us believe that Shrek is not a typical man
eating Ogre because he is never scared of Shrek and tries to find out
Shrek’s true feelings.
After analysing the character of Shrek and Lord Farquaad, I have come
to the conclusion that although Shrek seems like a traditional Ogre,
he isn’t one because you soon find out that he doesn’t like to be
violent, he rescues the Princess, he makes friends, he has feelings
and he finally falls in love.
Although Lord Farquaad looks like a Lord, his actions suggest that he
is evil. Examples of his evil nature are that he tortured the
Gingerbread man, steals Shrek’s swamp, tells his knights to kill
Shrek, rejects the Princess and falsely claims to be the king.
The story of Shrek uses presentational devices to reverse our
expectations, so by the end of the film Shrek is the hero who marries
the Princess, and Lord Farquaad is the evil beast who is eaten by the
dragon. Viewers are happy that the Ogre wins in the end and that the
Prince doesn’t. I