Being one of the longest standing online memes over the past decade, everyone knows how iconic the Shrek films are. And although 7-year-old me wasn’t aware of the horrible “Shrek is Love, Shrek is Life” viral video just yet, I certainly loved Shrek.
Walking into the cinema at that age feels like more than just a day-trip. In a time without Netflix, the only things I could watch on the TV were CBBC and the occasional film that’d been burned on a disc from a family friend. Going to the cinema felt like a massive deal, as it was something that happened very rarely as a kid.
Shrek the Third may not be the most popular of all the green Ogre’s adventures, but to me in the cinema it was immense. The colours dancing vividly across the screen, and hearing other filmgoers around me enjoy the film was very energising. The story-line was great and watching Shrek, Donkey, Puss in Boots, Fiona, and the others cause havoc for an hour and a half was exciting, but it was the experience of sitting in the red, plush seats surrounded by other families that was the most enjoyable aspect of my first trip to the cinema.
Seeing a film communally is something that isn’t hyped up enough. Sure, at home you can pause it whenever, grab the loudest snacks ever and have lots of space to stretch out and relax, but you don’t have the collective joy of watching the plot unfold. Since seeing Shrek 3 at the cinema at 7 years old, I’ve been to see much bigger films in the same environment like last year’s behemoth Avengers: Endgame; but this very first cinema trip still stands out as being the most memorable for the communal spirit I could feel.
Being a child, other people’s reactions may not be at the forefront of your mind when Shrek’s hysteric face is in front of you. But that’s not to say you don’t notice them. I have a really vivid memory of sitting in the seat and looking up at the big screen (which was fairly difficult to see as a tiny child) thinking, “Wow, this is really happening. I am really in a cinema right now, with other people around me, watching a new film. This is cool.” Looking back on it, it seems funny to me as I was such a shy kid that was probably just overwhelmed by the amount of strangers sitting around me. However, at the time, I couldn’t have been happier.
I don’t remember much of Shrek The Third, I won’t lie. But what I did recall was feeling so overwhelmed with happiness as I was experiencing something fun collectively with a group of strangers.