‘Shrek Retold’ and the Magic of Positive Fandom

The shot-for-shot remake of the DreamWorks animated classic is one trippy fever dream.

Shrek Retold
3GI Industries

Something extraordinary happened recently. Weird, but extraordinary nonetheless. 3GI Industries — a group of filmmakers, animators, and “Professional Shrekheads” — assembled 200 collaborations to make a shot-for-shot remake of Shrek in its entirety. Only, their movie is nothing like the family-friendly adventure we all know and love. In fact, this one really needs to be seen to be believed.

Shrek Retold reimagines the DreamWorks fairytale through the lens of bizarro fiction. Scenes are reminiscent of everything from Nintendo Game Boy graphics to hip-hop music videos. There’s also some anime influence in there, sock puppets, and regular people acting out their parts from the comfort of their own living rooms. At times it’s a visually striking psychedelic fever dream; other times it is amateur homemade absurdity. And that’s just me scratching the surface.

By blending various types of animation styles with shoestring live-action filmmaking, the film is like the Frankenstein’s monster version of Shrek — individual parts stitched together to make up a bizarre whole. And do you want to know something? I wholeheartedly mean that as a compliment; because like the Monster, Shrek Retold is a beautiful experiment that’s destined to become a beloved pop culture oddity.

Watch the movie below and see for yourself.

There’s no denying that Shrek Retold is silly and weird. I have no doubt that some of you believe that everyone involved should have focused their time, energy, and resources elsewhere. No movie is for everyone, but fan films like this are for an acquired taste more than most. But here’s the thing: Shrek Retold — like all the best fan tributes are — is a prime example of the type DIY filmmaking and fandom that should be applauded. The kind that are born out of love and brings people together for the sake of bringing some joy to this dark world.

But before we get into all that, we need to talk about Grant Duffrin. He’s the brainchild behind this crazy project. However, he’s been bringing folks together in the name of Shrek for a while now. Four years ago, he founded an annual festival called Shrekfest, simply to give fans of the green ogre and his mythological friends an event that celebrates life, love, and Shrek. The all-day party takes place in Wisconsin every Labor Day if you want to check it out for yourself.

Like most of the best wacky ideas, though, Shrekfest started as a joke. In 2014, someone made a fake Facebook event for the festival of ogre enthusiasts. Naturally, the die-hard Shrek fans saw it and were keen to make the trip for the festivities. Duffrin and his friends were among that bunch. Then, when they discovered that the event was one big prank, they took it upon themselves to make it a reality. You can read the full story over at Insider.

This passion for Shrek is sincere, too. From founding the festival to assembling 200 artists to recreate the movie that inspired them, Duffrin’s reason for dedicating so much of his life to Shrek projects is because he loves the original movies. To anyone who thinks his passion is ironic, he has a message for you: “Could you enjoy ice cream ironically?” he said in an interview with Quartz. “Could you eat ice cream as a joke?” Amen to that.

Duffrin and co. remind me of Chris Strompolos, Eric Zala, and Jayson Lamb, three teenagers who banded together in 1989 to remake Raiders of the Lost Ark. It took seven years for them to complete their mission, and Steven Spielberg was so moved by their efforts that he wrote to the filmmakers personally and called them an inspiration. They even got to meet their hero as a result. A fan effort inspiring one of the greatest filmmakers of all time should be enough reason to encourage everyone to chase their dreams — even if said dreams involve crafting low-budget love letters to iconic blockbusters.

Shrek Retold is more than a mere fan film, though. It’s pretty clear from watching the movie that some of the segments were created by talented animators with some interesting ideas. Hopefully the exposure they gain from this odd little delight going viral will afford them more opportunities to create original art that captures people’s hearts and imaginations the same way Shrek Retold has already. Heck, maybe the future creatives of DreamWorks Animation will be plucked from a trippy retelling of one of their most beloved properties. Never say never. Live your truth.

Fandom has negative connotations sometimes. There are vocal sections out there who go out of their way to taint it. That said, stories like Duffrin and his collaborators remind us that fandom is supposed to be fun, passionate, and celebratory. Maybe Shrek isn’t your cup of tea, but to know that a farting ogre inspired people to pursue their own creative endeavors is as magical as the fairytale that brought them together in the first place.

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