Having won the hearts of moviegoers and Academy voters, Shrek is now cracking the toughest nut of all: the academic community. Middlesex University London is throwing the film a 20th birthday party in the form of a conference.
On November 13, the school will host an online symposium examining the legacy of the film and the franchise it spawned.
The event is being organized by Dr. Sam Summers, associate lecturer in animation at Middlesex and author of Dreamworks Animation: Intertextuality and Aesthetics in Shrek and Beyond, and Dr. Lilly Husbands, lecturer in animation and visual culture at Middlesex.
Speakers will cover subjects including:
- Shrek and Disney
- Shrek merchandise and franchising
- Representation of gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity in the franchise
- Shrek as adaptation
- Tech, voice, and music in the film
- Shrek and online fan cultures
Released in 2001, Shrek made a huge impact on animation and pop culture generally. The film premiered at Cannes, went on to win the inaugural Oscar for best animated feature, and grossed $484 million worldwide. Last December, the film was added to the National Film Registry, the Library of Congress noting, “Even by Dreamworks standards, the charm and magic of Shrek seemed extraordinary upon its initial release almost 20 years ago — and its power has yet to diminish in the intervening years.”
Summers describes Shrek as “a force of nature” in terms of spawning imitators, pushing studios like Sony to launch their own animation studios, influencing online culture, and shaping younger millennials’ sense of humor. While “Toy Story set the model for how cartoon movies look, Shrek set the model for they behave,” he says.