Before realizing her love for Shrek, Fiona wants to marry only to break the spell and look beautiful forever, much like how Lord Farquaad only wants to marry her so he can be king, thus making Duloc a kingdom. (1 Corinthians 7:8-9) This motive of his is revealed the instant he discovers what happens to Fiona when the sun sets, and he impulsively decides to send her to the castle forever… only to be eaten by the very dragon which kept her. Unlike Farquaad, Shrek sees Fiona as beautiful whether or not she’s an ogress, Fiona’s inner spirit stays unchanged even when her outward appearance changes. (1 Peter 3:3-4) It makes sense why Shrek and Fiona have such solid understanding of each other, as Shrek likewise feels he has no choice but to live in the swamp alone, with plans to build a wall around it, to keep out everyone who runs in fear from him before they get to know him. (Matthew 7:1)
That’s not at all what short little Farquaad is like. Rather than learning to accept his *ahem* shortcoming, he tries to compensate for it by making everything in Duloc huge—he even tries to make himself appear of normal height on his noble steed. Everything about his city is about control, and not just about his height, but about making himself the image of success with a costume character out front, having souvenir shops of merchandise with his face on it, and organizing every last detail to the minutest perfection. There are wait times in line, turnstiles at the entrance, and even an info booth that has a bunch of cute little dolls singing about how perfect Duloc is. It’s all intentionally put together to mock Disneyland, Walt Disney’s image of “the happiest place on Earth,” that isn’t necessarily so for those who know all about the mouse enterprise’s history. Yet it’s made blatant just how imperfect of a place Duloc really is, as Farquaad does things like arrest the freaks as if they were Jews in the Holocaust, and even goes to the extent of controlling the reactions of the people with cue cards at his wedding. (James 2:1-6) This is such an impure leadership system much like Israel in its darkest days. (Ezekiel 16:20-21) Yet none of Christ’s people shall fear these major locations, for the Lord fights on their side! (Joshua 1-12)
This movie recognizes how older fairy tales and Disney movies just don’t understand what the Gospel message is really all about, and does that right away with the familiar classy Disney storybook opening with the familiar scenario for a fairy tale: a princess is locked in a tower guarded by a dragon, and she’s under a curse that can only be broken by love’s first kiss. But then that story is interrupted by a rude ogre on a toilet who starts bathing himself in mud to the sounds of Smashmouth.
He’s eventually forced on a quest he doesn’t want to go on but has to purely out of the inconvenience of all these creatures in his home, and forced on yet another quest for a princess he doesn’t care for, and in these instances, the true absurdity of the formula sticks out. Fiona expects to do the rescue the familiar romantic way, with the sonnets and gliding down onto a noble steed out yonder window. Except Shrek just wants to skip all that unnecessary schmaltz to get them out- he hasn’t even slayed the dragon! But imagine if he did, either he would have been burnt to bones like the other knights before him, or the dragon would have been killed and nothing would have stopped Farquaad later. It shows the rewards of Shrek being the practical thinker that makes him stronger than the human knights of traditional stories; he’s like a savior figure for the fairy tale creatures and Fiona, the big difference being that he fights out of inconvenience rather than love. But by the end, he is most certainly fighting for Fiona out of love. (John 15:13)
It’s great to see how unlike most Disney princess movies, Shrek understands the complication behind romance. A marriage may to the public come off as pristine, but peel back the layers, then the taste turns rancid. Only a truly pristine marriage can shine through layer after layer when both the man and the woman stop trying to expect the “happily ever after” of old stories written by men, and follow instead whatever story the Lord planned for each of them. (Mark 10:9, Hebrews 13:4) If that means He wants you to marry an overweight person who takes mud baths, so be it. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Have a great week, and happy watching, God bless!