by Rick Pidcock
This past weekend, our church had our second movie night. If you haven’t read the other articles, each month we watch a different movie. And then I lead a discussion of it in light of the gospel.
This month, we watched the movie Shrek. I must admit that I was made fun of on more than one occasion for choosing this movie. “What could Shrek have to do with the gospel? It’s just a stupid teenager movie!” But those of us who were there had a blast.
My friend Tony even brought his Shrek 3-D glasses. Talk about serious discipleship! I might get in trouble though if I post the picture of us adults gathering around the T.V. with our Shrek 3-D glasses.
In the end, however, everyone who attended was drawn closer to their Savior. And I hope that through this review, you will be as well.
1. What are the overall messages of the movie?
There are three main messages of the movie. The first is that our identity comes from within, not from externals. Towards the beginning of the movie, when Donkey first meets Shrek, he comes across as quite the pest. Finally, in an attempt to get rid of Donkey, Shrek cries out, “I’m an ogre! Doesn’t that bother you?”
Later, when discussing the stories told in the stars, Shrek says, “Sometimes things are more than they appear.” He was clearly drawing a connection between what they were discussing and the fact that he is more than what he appears to be on the outside.
Finally, in the end of the movie when Princess Fiona is changed into “Love’s true form,” she officially becomes a full-time stay-at-home ogre. In dismay, she says, “I thought I was supposed to be beautiful.” To which Shrek responds, “You are beautiful.”
The second message of the movie is that freedom from bondage can only be found through true love. As the movie opens up, Shrek is sitting in his out-house reading a fairy tale about a cursed princess, locked away in a castle, who can only be rescued by her true love. This idea sets the context for Shrek’s eventual quest to rescue her.
The third message of the movie is that we all need community. As an ogre who is despised by the culture, Shrek isolates himself into his own house, with no connection to the outside world. He refuses to allow Donkey into his house. And later, he says that as soon as he returns home, he is going to build a wall to keep people out.
Donkey confronts Shrek by asking, “Who are you trying to keep out?”
Then Shrek yells, “Everybody! I’m not the one with the problem! They have the problem because they judge me before they even know me!” The more Shrek isolates himself from the community of people who love him, the more miserable and hurt everybody becomes.
2. How do these messages point us to the gospel?
Our identity is found in the fact that Christ is in us.
Just as in Shrek, external conformity to any standard is irrelevant and useless. We are not defined by the way we look, how wealthy we are, or even how moral we can be in our own strength. We are defined by what is inside of us. If we are without Christ, then the Bible says that we are a disgusting corpse whose righteousness is as good as rags full of leprosy pus. However, if we have Christ, we have become a new, complete, beautiful creation of God.
Freedom from our prisons can only be found through our true love—Christ, not through the imposters.
As I said earlier, the movie begins by saying that only the princess’s true love can save her. Later, when Shrek is rescuing Princess Fiona from her prison, he notices that many other imposters had tried to save her, only to be incinerated by the dragon.
In the same way, we all are bound in prisons of different kinds. And many imposters in this world offer escape. But only our true love Jesus Christ can give us freedom.
At one point in the movie, Shrek says, “How could she love me? She’s a princess. And I’m just an ogre.” In our culture, beautiful people are not supposed to love ugly people. Rich people are not supposed to hang out in the ghetto. And yet, Christ is much more beautiful than a princess. And we are much more ugly than an ogre. It doesn’t make sense that He would love us and call us His bride. But He does.
We need a community of friends—the church.
When Shrek isolates himself from everybody else, his seclusion hurts everybody. It deprives him of healthy friendships and of the help that he needs. It also robs others of the edification that Shrek could offer to them. And it hinders opportunities that Shrek and his friends could have to help those around them.
Unfortunately, many of us do the same thing. God has given us a community in which we can be built up, serve others, and join to reach the world. But we often isolate ourselves from this community of friends called the church.
In my church, we have around 125-150 people who come. But only around 60-70 show up each week. And while in most cases, I do not believe that people are purposefully saying, “I’m going to live an isolated life and shut everybody else out,” in effect, they are doing just that. By only having a casual view of church, small groups opportunities, and other get-togethers, we disconnect ourselves from the body. And as a result, we are not able to be helped, we are not able to help others, and the church loses opportunities to minister to and make disciples of its community.
At the end of the movie, when Donkey confronts Shrek about his seclusion, he tells Shrek, “Friends forgive each other.” Then, as Shrek apologizes, all of the relationships are joyfully restored. Healing begins with humility. And if the body of Christ is to be healed of its sickness, we all need to humble ourselves by forgiving, opening up, and becoming transparent with one another.
After our discussion, everyone in the room said that they never would have thought that they could have grown so much from simply watching Shrek in a gospel-centered perspective. Aspects of the gospel were pointed out to each of us that had a profound impact on the way we viewed our own identity, freedom, and community.
I pray that these movie reviews will also spur you onto viewing your entertainment life as opportunity for real worship and growth, rather than merely a few hours of escaping reality.
You can view PluggedInOnline’s review of Shrek here.