Among the many details and fairy tale references in Shrek is one that reveals the fate of one of the three bears, and it’s a dark one.
Shrek gave a twist to fairy tales by adding a lot of humor which sometimes went to dark places, and one of its darkest moments is its hidden twist to the story of the three bears. The realm of animated movies is dominated by Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar, but in 2001, DreamWorks entered the competition with Shrek, a comedy led by a character far from those instantly likable leads from Disney movies and who fired shots at classic fairy tales, especially those made popular by the Mouse House.
Loosely based on the 1990 fairy tale picture book of the name same by William Steig, Shrek follows an antisocial ogre (voiced by Michael Myers) who goes on a mission to rescue Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) and take her to Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow) so he can have his swamp back, which was invaded by fairy tales characters who were banished by Farquaad. Shrek was a success with critics and viewers and it established DreamWorks Animation as a competitor to Pixar, winning various awards including the very first Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
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What made Shrek stand out from other animated movies at the time was not only its animation style, far from what Pixar and Disney had until then, but also its sense of humor, as it parodied and criticized a number of fairy tales and its clichés, such as Princesses being damsels in distress and them immediately falling in love with whoever they’re told to, with Fiona breaking all those molds and more. But Shrek’s humor wasn’t exclusive to its main characters, and there are details scattered all over the movie that add to it, even though some of them are a bit too dark and even shocking, to an extent. Such is the case of the fate of one of the three bears from the classic tale Goldilocks and The Three Bears, which is revealed in a very subtle but obscure way.
In the scene where Shrek’s future friend and sidekick, Donkey (Eddie Murphy), is introduced, he’s about to be sold to Farquaad’s knights. Donkey takes a look around and sees other fairy tale creatures being captured and taken away, among those the three bears, with Papa and Mama Bear in one cage and Baby Bear in another. Later on, when Shrek finds all of these characters at his swamp, the camera shows Papa and Baby Bear together in front of a bonfire, with Baby Bear crying. A few minutes later, a shot of Lord Farquaad’s bedroom shows a bearskin rug, with the same pink bow Mama Bear was wearing in the first scene, showing why Baby Bear was crying. However, she appears alive and well in Shrek Karaoke Dance Party, a musical short included on the Shrek VHS before the credits and set during the last scene of the movie before Shrek and Fiona leave on their honeymoon.
All four Shrek movies are packed with little details and Easter eggs that add to their humor and elevate the viewing experience, though some are more lighthearted than others. The three bears twist in the first movie is shocking and heartbreaking, but it can be somewhat retconned by Mama Bear’s appearance in the final musical number, with the bearskin rug being just a terrible coincidence, but that depends on every viewer.
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About The Author
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Adrienne Tyler is a features writer for Screen Rant. She is an Audiovisual Communication graduate that wanted to be a filmmaker, but life had other plans (and it turned out great). Prior to Screen Rant, she wrote for Pop Wrapped, 4 Your Excitement (4YE), and D20Crit, where she was also a regular guest at Netfreaks podcast. She was also a contributor for FanSided’s BamSmackPow and 1428 Elm. Adrienne is very into films and she enjoys a bit of everything: from superhero films, to heartbreaking dramas, to low-budget horror films. Every time she manages to commit to a TV show without getting bored, an angel gets its wings.
When she’s not writing, you can find her trying to learn a new language, watching hockey (go Avs!… But also Caps and Leafs), or wondering what life would have been like had Pushing Daisies, Firefly, and Limitless not been cancelled. Breakfast food is life and coffee is what makes the world go round.
Guillermo del Toro said “hi” to her once. It was great.
“Vänligheten är ett språk som de döva kan höra och de blinda kan se”.
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