THREE STARS - WHOLESOME
To love others as we really are is far more difficult than many think. This truth, in all its obvious implications, is explored in Dreamworks’ modern fairy-tale “Shrek.”
Using the remarkably realistic abilities of computer-generated animation, Shrek (voice by Mike Myers) is a huge, green Ogre whose isolation is a reaction caused by his rejection from others.
Living literally and figuratively in the slimy swamp, Shrek has convinced himself that he is happy eating slugs and bathing in mud. This is often the result of rejection. Whether it begins with our not loving ourselves and others reflecting that opinion, or with the rejection of others and our accepting their judgment, the result is the same: we choose to live at that level. If we are not worthy to live with others, then we live alone. If we are not worthy of love, then we reject others before they can reject us.
Shrek’s life changes dramatically when the diminutive Lord Farquaad (voice by John Lithgow) decides to capture all the fairy tale characters and remove them from his kingdom so that he will have the “perfect” kingdom. Fleeing for their lives, these imperfect ones invade the Ogre’s swamp to hide. One of these characters is a talking Donkey (voice by Eddie Murphy) with an unusual ability to accept others as they are. Accepting Shrek as a friend, Donkey stubbornly refuses to be rejected by him in return. It is this fledgling friendship that sets the stage for a primary lesson in love.
Without spoiling the tale and the nature of their quest, Shrek and Donkey find themselves joined to free the beautiful Princess Fiona (voice by Cameron Diaz). A romantic young princess who has been cursed by a wicked witch to live her life in a foreboding castle tower until her “true love” rescues her and gives her “true love’s kiss,” Princess Fiona is herself being held prisoner by a lonely and misunderstood fire-breathing dragon.
What is not known to Shrek but is revealed as a part of the quest is that Princess Fiona has a flaw of her own that makes her afraid that no one will really love her as she really is. It is Donkey that discovers the truth and helps both Shrek and the Princess understand that love accepts one another just as we are and is committed to the other not because we are perfect, but because we are beloved.
Though a misunderstanding almost causes an irreparable separation, love finally wins out and the result is not what one would expect from the usual fairy-tale endings, but is much more powerful instead.
Though presented in cartoon form and presenting a message of love in which scary creatures such as the fire-breathing dragon are transformed, the visual violence and some of the humor may be inappropriate for young children.
Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson have joined forces in directing a film that presents a much-needed message of love. When the ogre “Shrek” comes to love and accept himself as he really is, he is then able to love and accept his beloved just as she really is. The result is a happiness and joy that comes not from being perfect, but from being loved as God loves us: just as we are.