You Are Watching History When You Watch Shrek

For all it accomplished as a movie Shrek accomplished even more because it was an animated movie and the first of its kind. Never before had such detail gone into the making of an animated movie before and Shrek escalated the animated movie wars between Dreamworks and Disney to the point where Dreamworks felt comfortable enough to take several not so subtle shots at Disney in Shrek.
Not too long ago I was visiting Disneyworld and having a lovely time with my family. During the week I had overheard a little girl ask her mother where Shrek was. The mother was a little confused herself because she knew her daughter liked to watch Shrek and the little girl would probably get a big kick out being able to watch Shrek in person. The mother asked about Shrek and the park guide informed her, ever so politely, that Shrek is not a Disney character. It is amazing how a company like Disney will spend years and years creating the feeling that any fairy tale animated movie that comes out is theirs and that everyone should associate all good animated fairy tales to be Disney products. Then when the best animated fairy tale movie of all time comes out not only is it not Disney but the movie also goes that extra step and spits in Disney's face by taking a few shots at the theme park company while all the time making children, and adults, laugh. When you watch Shrek not only are you not seeing a Disney movie but what you are seeing when you watch Shrek is the animated fairy tale movie that made other companies believe that they could compete with Disney in the animated fairy tale market and win. All of this over a big green ogre and a donkey.

Shrek was released in 2001 but production began in 1996 and took 4 and a half years to complete. The voice talents of Michael Myers as Shrek, Eddie Murphy as Donkey, Cameron Diaz as Princess Fiona, and John Lithgow as Lord Farquaad were all done separately over the course of a year or so and for this first Shrek movie none of the voice stars ever worked together. All of their lines were done in different studios at different times from each other and that is one of the things about Shrek that John Lithgow says he always regrets. Lithgow says he was glad to make a movie with the likes of Eddie Murphy and Mike Myers but he would have really liked the chance to work with them! Mike Myers wasn't even the first choice to be the voice of Shrek and Shrek was not going to have a Scottish accent. Originally Chris Farley had recorded the dialogue to Shrek and they even began animating it to his dialogue. But when Farley passed away during production the producers did not want to close the door on any possible sequels so they decided to ask Mike Myers to do the voice of Shrek. It was Myers who gave Shrek the Scottish accent.

Shrek was one of the biggest grossing animated movies of all time and required a record breaking 36 unique set locations to be created for it. At the time no other animated movie, not even a Disney movie, had required that many unique sets to be created and it made Shrek one of the most popular animated movies of all time. But more than the money, and even more than the amazing detail that went in to the animation, was the story. Disney movies in the past had appealed only to children. Dreamworks had decided that while it would remain a children's movie there would be some humor in there for the adults as well and the idea became a huge success. The success was so huge that even a third sequel has not slowed the Shrek franchise and it looks like we could be seeing a lot of Shrek for a very long time to come.
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