Shrek’s Original Test Animation Recovered & Put Online

Shrek and Donkey in the original 2001 film.

Image: DreamWorks Animation

If you’re someone who likes knowing how media gets made and what things looked like before their final product, you’ll be pleased to hear that test footage of the original Shrek movie has been released online. And it’s…well, you can see below.

Posted on YouTube by the Zoom Art Studio, the footage is short, but fascinating. It’s the titular ogre dancing in the street to James Brown’s “I Feel Good,” and upon getting held up by a mugger, basically shrugs the dude off to keep dancing. This comes from back in 1995 when comedian Chris Farley was originally attached to play the title character before his passing in 1997 and Michael Myers was brought in to replace him. For those who were pretty young back then, this is an interesting look back on a visual level: while Shrek himself looks pretty good in motion, he also looks kind of gross up close and more fitting of the social stigma that comes with being an ogre.

[UPDATED] Full Shrek Pilot from 1996 but the audio isn’t horrendous

While it feels closer to William Stieg’s 1990 kids book of the same name—which Shrek the film is loosely based on—this look probably would’ve been a little too much for younger audiences back then. But despite being what Zoom Art calls a “dark edgy low budget film,” you can see the bones of the final Shrek in this minimal footage. The fusion of pop culture with a standard fairy tale setting and its well-timed comic mischief survived the transition over to computer animation, in turn turning Shrek into a larger franchise. It also cemented DreamWorks’ reputation as the “anti-Pixar,” for better or worse: where films like Monster’s Inc and Toy Story 2 were emotionally resonant and felt like classic kids movies that could stand the test of time, things like Over the Hedge and later Shrek sequels felt disposable somewhat dated within weeks of coming out.

With last year’s Puss in Boots: The Last Wish and a potential fifth Shrek film in the works, the green ogre seems primed for a grand return soon. Whatever you feel about that news, the test footage provides an interesting look at the series’ past and what could’ve been.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

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