Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Shrek Forever After

Shrek Forever After was the eighth-highest domestic-grossing film of 2010. I've already reviewed the first three Shrek movies here, here and here. The original Shrek passed only one level of the Original Bechdel, while the second and third passed all three levels. Will the fourth pass the Original Bechdel too?

blug1.png The first man to speak is Rumpelstiltskin, who gives the opening narration. The second man is the King (not yet turned into a frog), who recoils when a mime blows a kiss at him. Soon after, he turns to the Queen and expresses his doubts about their plan.

The Queen is the first woman in the movie, who reassures her husband about going through with the plan.

blug2.png When we first see Rumpelstiltskin on screen, he promises to release Fiona from the curse in exchange for the entire kingdom of Far Far Away. He speaks with the King about the deal, which passes RB-2, but not RB-3, since the conversation is about Fiona.

blug3.png Rumpelstiltskin is going mad, ripping the pages out of the fairy tale book telling the story of how Shrek saved Fiona (and prevented Rumpelstiltskin from taking over Far Far Away). Pinocchio says, "Uh, sir? You're going to have to pay for that." Rumpy offers to make a deal, calling Pinocchio "Little boy" and Pinocchio says, "Oh, I'm not a real boy." Rumpy again tries to make a deal, but Pinocchio kicks him out of the store. (Even though Pinocchio is not a "real boy" and even though he was wearing ladies' underwear in the second movie, I think he does count as a "male character" for the purposes of the Reverse Bechdel.) Like so many other movies, Shrek Forever After passes the Reverse Bechdel within the first five minutes.

pink1.png The second woman in the movie is Fiona, who talks with Shrek during the montage of his day-to-day activities. The third woman is the Ugly Stepsister, but none of them talk to each other before Shrek's deal with Rumpy. (Speaking of which, Shrek and Rumpy have a nice long talk with other before the deal that easily passes RB-3.)

The fourth woman to speak is one of the witches, who says to the other witches, "Ogre! We got another one, ladies!" Then another says, "Looks like a troublemaker!" and after they capture him, "Nice job, ladies!"

Once Shrek is in the wagon, two witches argue about what Donkey should sing. One says, "I hate this song" and the other replies, "Yeah, I'm driving, so uh, I'm in charge of the music." Donkey has the next line, so it doesn't quite pass OB-2 as I've defined it.

nopink2.png nopink3.png Throughout the rest of the movie, no two women talk audibly to each other at all. Some witches are seen apparently talking in the background, and some laugh in a group, but no two women actually talk to each other. In the ogre camp, there are dozens of men, but only two women, who are never even seen together. Of course, one of those women is the alternate Fiona, the ogres' leader, but she is the only main character who is female.

Indeed, in terms of main characters, Shrek Forever After follows much the same pattern as the original Shrek. The supporting characters built up over the franchise play only very small roles in the fourth movie. Most of the dialogue is between Shrek and Donkey or Shrek and Fiona, with some extra dialogue between Shrek and Puss-not-in-Boots. The only other character with significant lines is Rumpy, the villain.


  1. Hi!
    I like your scientific and humorous approach!
    And: I would love to hear your thoughts on the below. It's a reverse-engineered Bechdel Test, not just gender-flipped. I think you will be intrigued.

  2. ’Sup? Timecrimes fails all of the criteria because of the two male characters in the movie (H├ęctor and the scientist) only one has a name.