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No time like the present, right? So, last night I wanted to relax a bit, but also practice character development with the questions raised in Mr. Robot yesterday.
Shrek 2 was on the menu, nothing like this kind of movie to relax you and put smiles on your face at the same time. Why not see if I can figure out some of the questions in these characters.
Also, on top of Mr. Robot, I saw a video posted on the screenwriting group on FB with Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of South Park, about ‘but’ and ‘therefore’. That often they run into screenplays where it’s all ‘and then this happened and then this happened’. Instead of an obstacle or a real change in the course of things and more causal events. So, instead of ‘and, and, and’, it should be ‘but…’ and ‘therefore…’. I made this then also my homework so I wouldn’t just watch Shrek 2 for the 34th time and it not be beneficial.
And indeed I was able to pinpoint the answers to some of the questions, I focused on ‘fears’ and ‘secrets’, but also on ‘wishes’, what does someone want the most, above all else, even at the cost of himself. It was interesting to watch a movie focusing deliberately on these specific questions.
*SPOILERS AHEAD* (if you haven’t seen the movie yet, I can highly recommend it)
Shrek just wants to be himself, an ogre, he does not want to change, but when he sees it’s driving Fiona away, he wants to change, making her happy. He will even change himself, not be an ogre anymore, even though he loves it.
The king, Fiona’s father, has a big secret, the fairy godmother helped him change from a frog into a human being, so he could marry the princess and become king and have a normal life. But with a price. The fairy godmother’s son can have their daughter, Fiona, probably to make him the new king. Even if she won’t like him.
When the fairy godmother threatens to reveal the secret, the king tries to get rid of Shrek. Even if this will hurt his daughter. But at a certain point, his love for his daughter and her happiness is more important to him and he stands up to the fairy godmother, even if it will mean that his secret will be revealed and turning him back into a frog.
Shrek also asks Fiona if she will want to stay like a normal human being forever, he will do that for her. So, he sacrifices his own wish for his wife’s happiness, which is his real wish. Then of course, like in any good fairy tale story, Fiona doesn’t want what others tell her to want, she wants to live happily ever after with the ogre she married.
The question ‘who is really pulling the strings in your life’ also comes in, when both Fiona and Shrek are tempted to do what everyone around them wants them to do and be. Eventually they don’t give in to the opinion of others, but follow their own heart. A much reoccurring theme in movies of course.
Also I practiced with spotting the ‘but’ and ‘therefore’ thing what the creators of South Park said, which were indeed very visible, at least, if I spotted them right. After all, I am a newbie at screenwriting, but not at watching movies, having an eye for good storytelling. So, now another analysis of the story, but this time focusing on how the story is moved forward, the causal events.
Shrek and Fiona come back from their honeymoon and want to enjoy themselves by themselves, BUT message comes, they are invited to go to Fiona’s parents. Shrek does not want to go, but realizes he will have to, since this will make Fiona happy and she convinces him they will love him. THEREFORE they go. The welcome is not very warm and this already makes it awkward, Shrek however is willing to try. Shrek is trying to fit in at dinner, BUT then the king triggers, pushes his buttons and THEREFORE they get angry at each other and Shrek wants to leave. THEREFORE Fiona cries and the fairy godmother appears, discovering that Fiona is already married and her plan of her son becoming the next king is jeopardized. THEREFORE she meets with the king and forces him to get rid of Shrek or she will change him back into a frog. THEREFORE the king plans to have Shrek killed by Puss In Boots, in the woods. BUT the assassination fails and Shrek spares his life THEREFORE he spills the beans and Shrek discovers from Puss that it was the king’s idea to have him killed which pushes Shrek to want to be normal, so Fiona will be happy with him and the king too. He of course doesn’t know the real reason he had to be killed. THEREFORE he goes to the factory of the fairy godmother to find a cure that will make him normal, beautiful. They succeed to find a potion for that BUT the fairy godmother finds out what potion is missing and decides to use it to her advantage with her son. Shrek and Donkey take the potion and they change, Shrek into a normal human being and Donkey into a stallion. And Fiona also, back to a normal human being, beautiful. BUT for the effects to last forever, he will have to kiss Fiona before midnight.
Shrek and Donkey then go to the palace to show Fiona how he has changed for her, BUT the fairy godmother is there to stop him from meeting her and pretending Charming is the new Shrek, Donkey has told Fiona about the potion, so she knows now Shrek has changed, as has she, of course she doesn’t know what Shrek looks like, THEREFORE the plan works, Fiona thinks Charming is Shrek and the fairy godmother convinces Shrek Fiona is better off as and with a human being instead of an ogre, which he still is on the inside, she is preying on his doubts he already has about himself.
THEREFORE Shrek and Donkey and Puss leave and go to drink in a bar. BUT there they see the king in disguise and discover that Charming is the fairy godmother’s son and also the plan of giving Fiona a potion, so that then whoever she will kiss first, she will fall in love with, because Fiona isn’t warming up to Charming, the fairy godmother again threatens the king with his secret forcing him to do it, BUT then Shrek and Donkey are discovered by them. THEREFORE Shrek and Donkey and Puss have to flee BUT are captured. BUT Gingi and his friends are watching their capture on TV and decide to break them out. And succeed.
In the mean time the welcome to the newlyweds party is happening. Fiona doesn’t want to join, the king visits her (THEREFORE from the meeting with fairy godmother forcing him to do this) to give her the potion in the tea, the first step of the plan. BUT he changes his mind when he sees how much Fiona loves Shrek and she was happy with Shrek, not Charming. Her happiness is what really matters to him THEREFORE the king decides to drink the tea instead of giving it to Fiona.
At the party the fairy godmother doesn’t know this, but does everything to get Fiona in the mood and arms of Charming. At the same time Shrek and company are trying to break into the palace.
They are successful and steal the magic wand of the fairy godmother BUT the fairy godmother tells Charming to kiss Fiona BUT nothing happens because she hadn’t gotten the potion. Charming throws the magic wand back to the fairy godmother who, out of anger, wants to strike Fiona and Shrek. BUT the king throws himself in front and gets hit and turns into a frog again and the ray ricochets off his armour and THEREFORE kills the fairy godmother. The king, now a frog, tells Fiona why he did it, THEREFORE the queen and all of them now love him more than ever and all is well on this front. Shrek asks Fiona if she wants to stay like this forever, then all they have to do is kiss, and it’s almost midnight, she chooses not to, she wants to live happily ever after ‘with the ogre she married’. THEREFORE Shrek, Fiona and Donkey change back to their old self. The end.
Watching this movie, a few more character questions came to mind:
What is your deepest desire, wish? What do you want the most, even if it is at the cost of yourself?
What are you willing to give up for the happiness of your most loved ones?
What is your deepest fear?
What triggers you, makes you angry? What pushes your buttons? What is your Marty McFly chicken moment?
More questions to be answered.
This has been good homework. Very revealing. It will help me to ask these things about the characters. And am realizing how all these questions are linked. Making it much easier to think them up and connecting them. And at the same time becoming very aware of the importance of causality, that scenes, sequences, events in a story need to have a reason to have come into the story, a cause, a result of something previous happening in the story. I think I will do this exercise with more movies. Good. A good day 5.