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 SHREK 

Theme:  The Kingdom of Self
             
The Kingdom of Disney
              The Kingdom of God

Insights:
 

DreamWorks' new animated motion picture, "Shrek", turns traditional fairy tales upside down, pokes fun at Disney's Magic Kingdom, and uses crude humor, all the while delivering a timeless message of beauty and truth.

The Kingdom of Self

As the story opens, three of the main characters are uniquely imprisoned in a "Kingdom of Self". Shrek1, the green ogre, lives all alone in the center of a lowly swamp. His home is in the base of a large broken tree. The tree is a symbol of Shrek himself; a giant with a broken heart. His ugly appearance has resulted in people judging and rejecting him before they get to know him. In self-defense Shrek has isolated himself in his swamp. He has built layers around his heart; layers like those of an onion.

Lord Farquaad2 is a small tyrant with a big head. He lives in Duloc, the land he has created in his own "perfect" image. In the early scenes of the movie, Lord Farquaad has ordered all the misfits expelled from his kingdom. The fairy tale creatures do not conform to his standard of perfection. (Notice the similarity of the lines and wagons to Schindler's List). What Lord Farquaad really wants is to be king. The Magic Mirror informs him that the only way for this to happen is for him to marry a princess. The reason for marrying Princess Fiona is selfish gain not true love. The enormous hard gray fortress that towers over Duloc symbolizes his pride-filled heart.

Princess Fiona3 has been imprisoned in a castle keep4. Guarded by a fiery dragon, she waits all alone for a knight to come to her rescue. Only true love's first kiss will break the spell cast upon her by a wicked witch. Her heart is imprisoned in a fortress of fear. She is afraid that her secret will be discovered before the kiss brings her freedom; for who could love someone who turns into a green ogre after sunset?

The hero of the story is the donkey. Donkeys are symbolic of humility, patience, and burden bearers of the poor.5 In the Old Testament, a donkey found speech and rebuked the spiritual blindness of its master (Numbers 22:27-33). In the New Testament, a donkey carried the Love of God to mankind (Luke 19:28-38). That is exactly what this donkey does. He is the one who speaks words of wisdom such as, "Friends forgive one another," and "You need to tell him the truth," etc. He doesn't judge by externals and brings the best out of everyone including a fire-breathing dragon. The love and the friendship (I John 4:7-8) released through this donkey are able to set two hearts free from the "Kingdom of Self". Shrek is released from his swamp of rejection and Princess Fiona from her stronghold of fear. They ride off to live happily ever after in a glorious onion coach! Only the proud vain heart of Lord Farquaad remains unaffected (Proverbs 16:18). His heart ends up in a fiery pit where all such hearts end up (Revelation 20:14-15)!!

The Kingdom of Disney

There is no doubt that Duloc is designed to imitate Disney's Magic Kingdom. Who knows, Duloc could be an acronym for "Disney Under Lord Of Control"!  Shrek makes fun of how well Disney has mastered the art of controlling and moving people. The reason for mocking Disney is really insignificant. What is significant is how the audience reacts to these scenes. They respond like people who have been there and done that!

           Walt Disney World is comprised of four theme parks each having its own icon. In order of their creation they are:

Magic Kingdom
EPCOT
MGM Studios
Animal Kingdom
Cinderella's Castle
Spaceship Earth
Earffel Tower
Tree of Life

What is the powerful magnetism that draws people from all walks of life and all corners of the globe to this  "kingdom"? The answer is desire!  Each theme park touches an innate desire in human beings. We go there looking for something we had once upon a time in the beginning.

The Magic Kingdom touches our desire for beauty, intimacy, and adventure. We all want a home (Main Street), a future (Tomorrowland), and to be part of a great romance. For females this great romance is to be the princess; the one that is desired (Fantasyland). For males the longing is to be a hero, a worthy knight who goes on a great quest (Adventureland /Frontierland). This desire comes from our being created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Before the foundation of the world we were known, loved, and destined to be part of the sacred romance6 (Ephesians 1:3-6).

EPCOT stands for 'Environmental Prototype City of Tomorrow',; and it touches our desire for a future and a home. The icon is the sphere called "Spaceship Earth". Inside the silver globe is a ride through time, thus it brings together space, time and matter. Genesis 1:1 states," In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."  This tells us exactly how space, time, and matter came to be.

The icon for MGM Studios is the Earffel Tower. It is a replica (with added ears) of a water tower that stood on the property of the original Walt Disney Studios. Water towers existed to provide water pressure, so that when a spigot was turned on, water would flow from it.  What flows through MGM Studios is a river of "story". Why is the fascination with motion pictures so great that a whole theme park would be devoted to it? It is because they touch our heart's desire to be part of a great drama. We know we were created for something more. 

The fourth and most recent theme park is Disney's Animal Kingdom. You enter the Park through an oasis, which acts like a green decompression zone7. After meandering through the tropical garden, you find yourself at Discovery River with your first view of the Park icon. The 140' Tree of Life has 325 carved animal figures on its trunk. The tree is located on Discovery Island, from which four bridges connect to the four lands that make up the Park. The resemblance to Eden is unmistakable. (Genesis 2:8-17). The concept for this Park originated with man's love for animals. This love is a remnant of our original job description. We were created to rule over the zoological realm, to govern the earth with all its living things8 (Genesis 1:26-28).

Located in the "Sunshine State",  the four Disney icons are man-symbols of the original story.  Millions of people are drawn to them each year. They go seeking a magic kingdom, but in reality they are trying to escape a fallen world.  The way back to Eden is not through Disney World.  The cross of Jesus Christ is the way into the Kingdom of God (John 14:6).

Genesis

      Icons From Disney

        Revelation


The romance before the foundation
of the world  
Ephesians 1:3-6
    Cinderella's Castle 
    The Magic Kingdom
   New Jerusalem
   Revelation 21:10-21
Space, Time, Matter
Genesis 1:1
    Spaceship Earth
    The Nations around the lake
    EPCOT      
   Nations shall walk
   Revelation 21:23-24
Separation of the waters
Genesis 1:6-10
    Earffel Water Tower 
    MGM Studios
   River of Life
   Revelation 22:1
Eden / Tree of Life
Genesis 2:8-15
    Tree of Life 
    The Animal Kingdom
   
   Tree of Life
   Revelation 22:2


The Kingdom of God

The lesson of Shrek is the great inversion; "He who is last, shall be first" (Matthew 19:30).

    • The green ogre wins the princess

    • The beautiful princess takes love's true form...a green ogre

    • The lowly donkey is the hero

    • The fiery dragon is the lady

    • The fairy tale outcasts are invited to the wedding celebration

    • The wedding takes place in a swamp

    • The smelly onion becomes the glorious coach

    • The self exalted lord ends up in the fiery pit

 

 

 


There couldn't be a better portrayal of the Kingdom of God. When Jesus Christ came, the message He brought was the open availability of God's rule to all humanity through reliance on Himself.  As Dallas Willard writes, 

"In general, many of those thought blessed or 'first" in human terms are miserable or "last" in God's terms; and many of those regarded as cursed or "last" in human terms may well be blessed or "first "in God's terms, as they rely on the kingdom of Jesus. Many, but not necessarily all. The Beatitudes are lists of human "lasts" who at the individualized touch of the Heavens become divine "firsts". The gospel of the kingdom is that no one is beyond beatitude, because the rule of God from Heaven is available to all. Everyone can reach it; and it can reach everyone. We respond appropriately to the Beatitudes of Jesus by living as if this were so, as it concerns others, and as it concerns ourselves.  So we must see from our hearts that:

"Blessed are the physically repulsive
Blessed are those who smell bad
The Twisted, misshapen, deformed
The too big, too little, too loud
The bald, the fat, and the old.......
For they are all riotously celebrated in the party of Jesus."
9 (Matthew 5:3-12)

 

Scripture:   Matthew 5-7

Notes:

  1. Schreck is German and Yiddish for fright, shock, alarm, dread, fear, terror.  Michael Weinstein

  2. Farquaad - Far  3 : in or to a great degree   4 : in a great proportion, by a great interval; greatly.  
    Quad : slang var. of quod;  quod : slang : prison.      Webster's Dictionary

  3. Fiona - Ir. Gael. "Fair, pale"   Greatest Baby Name Book Ever by Carol Wallace

  4. Keep - n. 1: archaic : custody; guard.  2 : a fortress; a castle; specif : the donjon of a medieval castle. Donjon - n. (see dungeon), a massive chief tower in ancient castles.  Webster's Dictionary

  5. Signs and Symbols by Clare Gibson

  6. For more insight into the sacred romance, see The Sacred Romance by John Eldredge and Brent Curtis

  7. The Making of Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park by Melody Malmberg

  8. For more insight into man's original purpose in Creation, see The Spirit of The Disciplines by Dallas Willard, [Harper Collins]

  9. The Divine Conspiracy, pp 122-123 by Dallas Willard.  The Divine Conspiracy has a brilliant interpretation of The Sermon on the Mount

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