Conrad, Sally and Cat intercept Lawrence before he can deliver the dog and incriminate Conrad. A chase ensues and, although Sally, Conrad and Cat, successfully retrieved the dog and the lock, Lawrence collects Joan from work attempting to convince her of the children's mischief. Downtrodden, the three think their chances are dashed, until Conrad realises all he needs is reverse psychology to get the Things to help them beat scheming Larry.
Thing 1 and Thing 2 run riot in the Walden home, Conrad breaks an old rule and unlocks a crate, and Cat warns of the terrible consequences to come. Lawrence 'Larry' Quinn turns out to be a toothless, rotund, slob with credit card debts. When Larry notices the little dog has run off again, he calls Joan and reminds her of military school.
Joan's boss, neat freak Hank Humberfloob, has organised an office party, threatening messy guests with termination. Joan's daughter, Sally, is clean, well-behaved and overly mature. Her son, imaginative Conrad, has earned a reputation as a "troublemaker". After work, Joan finds that Conrad has developed a new sport, "stair luging". While cleaning Conrad up, Joan's squeaky clean and ill-intentioned partner, Lawrence 'Larry' Quinn, reveals his plan to send Conrad to military school.
The princess finally decides to tell Shrek her secret, but Shrek is already hurt. Shrek rejects her and Lord Farquaad arrives to ask for her hand in marriage, she accepts, thinking it will break the spell. Donkey tells Shrek to go after the princess, but Shrek yells to leave him alone. Everyone is sad and isolated. Donkey arrives at the swamp and confronts Shrek about his behaviour. The two friends reconcile and head to the kingdom to stop the wedding.
Shrek accuses Donkey of coming into the house but quickly realises it's not Donkey. When Snow White is pushed onto his dining room table, Shrek learns there are more uninvited guests than he realises. Outside, Shrek learns that evil Lord Farquaad has evicted all the fairytale creatures. Shrek announces he will visit Farquaad personally to fix the issue. The crowd cheers and crown Shrek their hero. Shrek and Donkey leave for the Lordship of Duloc.
A group of townsfolk head off to find Shrek, a solitude-loving ogre, hoping to capture him for a reward. While outside, they tell cautionary tales about what ogres do to humans, but Shrek interrupts to set the record straight. Shrek tells them they are thinking of giants, not ogres, and explains that ogres are actually much worse. After roaring loudly, he reminds them to run away. The scene shows two reoccurring themes used in the film, fairytales and misrepresentation.
While Princess Fiona sleeps, Shrek tells Donkey of all the ogre histories written in the stars. Donkey doesn't believe him, but Shrek tells him that "sometimes things are more than they appear", which is also a clue about Fiona. Donkey presses Shrek about his seclusion and Shrek reveals he is unhappy with the way people judge him. After breakfast, Fiona surprises them by not being as ladylike as they expected, echoing Shrek's sentiment about judging before knowing.
Shrek, Donkey and Princess Fiona's friendship grows as they travel to Duloc. Donkey interrupts a special moment between Shrek and Fiona, reminding them of the sun setting. Panicked, the princess escapes to a house to avoid Shrek seeing she is cursed. After convincing Shrek to tell Fiona his true feelings, Donkey goes to find the princess and discovers her secret. As Fiona tells Donkey of the curse, Shrek mishears their conversation and believes Fiona thinks he's ugly.
Duloc soldiers of set up a trade-in stall for fairytale creatures. As creatures with magical powers are imprisoned in cages, Donkey pretends not to speak. When an accident sprinkles him with fairy dust he flies away, taunting the soldiers. Unfortunately, the magic wears off and Donkey makes a run for it, bumping into Shrek. Shrek scares off the soldiers and Donkey decides to stick around. Shrek is not as enthusiastic about his new houseguest.
Shrek and Donkey defeat the soldiers Lord Farquaad set upon them. Farquaad crowns Shrek the winner and tells him he's "won" a mission. Shrek protests, explaining he was already on a quest to get his swamp back. Farquaad cuts a deal. Donkey and Shrek set out on their new quest to rescue Princess Fiona. Along the way, Shrek explains that ogres have layers and that there is more to ogres than people know.
Shrek interrupts the wedding to tell Princess Fiona how he feels and Fiona reveals her secret to Shrek. Lord Farquaad orders their arrest, but Donkey arrives on Dragon to save them. Dragon eats Farquaad and the town cheers, freed of the lord's oppressive reign. Fiona takes love's "true form" and discovers that beauty is more than skin deep. Back at the swamp, Shrek, Fiona, Donkey, Dragon, the fairytale creatures and the townsfolk live in harmony, happily ever after.
Fairytale-hating Lord Farquaad tortures the Gingerbread Man to learn the location of the other creatures. When the Magic Mirror arrives, it tells Farquaad he will only be king if he marries a princess. The mirror shows him Today's Eligible Bachelorettes, a game that imitates contemporary reality TV. Farquaad chooses Princess Fiona but doesn't wait to hear she is cursed to transform into an ogress. Meanwhile, Shrek and Donkey have arrived, finding Duloc castle eerily quiet.
Greg and Rodrick put their differences aside to help each other clean up after having a party while their parents are out of town. While they do decide to work together, the motive of their actions is questionable.
Princesses Anna and Elsa are segregated in their castle after Elsa, who has the power to turn things to ice and grows more dangerous as she matures, accidentally injures her sister. Anna sings Do You Want To Build A Snowman
Li, determined to prove himself, practises split jumps after dark. When teacher Chan interrupts, Li explains his concerns about ballet, his future and his family. The next day, the Beijing dance troupe must perform before Madame Mao, who criticises the lack of revolutionary imagery. Chan argues for subtlety but is accused of challenging the revolutionary path. Chan seeks out Li, telling him a parable that inspires Li's resilience. Li proves himself to teacher Gao. Chan is arrested.
Before Li's performance in The Rites of Spring, Li talks to a television journalist about his freedom, his separation from his family and dancing for his parents. Backstage Li and Mary hear unexpected applause in the audience. Outside the theatre, Cynthia welcomes Li's parents, and Ben invites them to their seats. After the performance, Li sees his mother and father in the crowd and they are invited onstage for an emotional reunion.
Ben takes Li shopping. Afterwards, Li visits the Chinese consulate where he is warned of the dangers of American capitalism and reminded to fulfil his Communist principles. During a flashback, Li's father tells him a parable about a frog and the knowledge of a different world. Back in Houston, Li struggles to reconcile life in American, the excess and wealth, with his memories of home and labour in Qingdao, Shandong province, China.
Li and classmates secretly watch the Mikhail Baryshnikov video their teacher Chan gave him before his arrest. Li is motivated to train harder than ever. In 1976 Mao Zedong dies and China begins to interact with the West. Three years later, Houston Ballet director Ben Stevenson visits the Beijing dance academy. Ben invites Li to travel to the US and Communist Party officials debate whether Li is politically ready to resist the West.
Ben teaches Li the chorography of the performance. Confident in Li, but concerned about overloading him, Ben tells Li they can cancel the show. Li is determined to learn the piece. On opening night, Li freezes on stage, reflecting on his journey, his family, the Cultural Revolution, his old dance school, the arrest of teacher Chan and the parable his teacher told him about strength, courage and passion. Li begins his performance, dancing perfectly with his partner.
Li asks Ben about a word he was called in the street. Ben, protecting Li from the cruelty of racism, tells Li the official meaning. Elizabeth and Li go to the movies and a Chinese restaurant for dinner. Elizabeth tries new food, and Li learns new words. The next day, Ben's principal dancer injures his shoulder. Ben suggests Li fills the position. Betty Lou asks if Li can play a Spaniard, ethically, and Ben reminds them that an American has played a Japanese character.
Li Cunxin arrives in Houston, Texas, and is collected from the airport by Ben, Cynthia, Betty Lou, Mason Lori and Dilworth from the Houston Ballet Company. Li is shocked by the scale and grandeur of the new world he is seeing. That night, Li thinks of his life at home in 1972, the harsh reality of Shandong province, Mao's Cultural Revolution and what lead him to where he is now.
Worried his choice to stay in the US reflects badly on the ballet company, Li decides to talk to the Chinese consulate in Houston. Inside the consulate, Ben and Charles attempt to negotiate with diplomats but the vice consul asks to speak with Li privately. Li is detained after he explains to the official he wants to stay in the US. Amid media attention and a possible diplomatic row, consular official Zhang concedes Li is permitted to remain in the US but the dancer's Chinese citizenship is revo
Back home, Li's family suffers the consequences of his defection. Communist Party officials visit the family home intent of shaming the family. Li's mother, distraught and protective of him, blames the party for taking her son away. Li tells Ben of his plan to move to Florida with Elizabeth and Ben convinces him to stay in Houston, with what family he has here. Li continues to have nightmares about his family and the consequences of his actions. Li and Elizabeth's relationship deteriorates.
Returning to the water, Milika, Botj and Lorrpu find a campsite. Inside the camp they notice evidence of disrespectful occupants. Stealing the camp's boat, the boys work together to catch their first turtle. After eating it, Lorrpu places pieces of shell and bones into the fire. Lorrpu explains it is in respect of the old people. As they walk across country Botj begins singing their song line. Together they embrace their journey and rediscover Yolngu knowledge.
Lorrpu dreams of his childhood with Botj and Milika; of their hunts together and the time they were initiated. Milika pulls Lorrpu out of his dream. Milika has grown into a great football player and is invited to ceremony by Yolngu elder, Dawu. Botj is collected from jail by his uncle, Matjala, who asks about his absent father. At the game Botj gets into a fight, almost hurting Milika. Jail has changed Botj and the progression of their friendship.
Matjala questions Lorrpu when he arrives at the hospital. Lorrpu sings by Botj's side, waiting to see if he will be okay. Lorrpu finds Milika at the oval to tells him the news, but Milika doesn't care. A love interest between Darwu's granddaughter and Lorrpu develops. The elders remind Milika and Lorrpu of their responsibilities as dirramu (men). Lorrpu devises a plan to help his friend Botj, and Milika comes through in the end.
Botj goes to see Darwu, and determine his future. That night, he tells of getting jailed for pretending to be on turtle hunt, the boys laugh. The next day Botj visits his father, finding him drunk and unable to recognise Botj. Lorrpu and Milika plead Botj's case to Darwu. Botj, caught between two worlds, turns to bad habits. Milika and Lorrpu come to an understanding about their own futures. Botj's body is found washed up below the bridge.
The boys set out for Darwin, with only themselves, their memories and their hopes. Lorrpu leads the group, entreating the others to trust him and their cultural knowledge. Back home in north-eastern Arnhem Lab, Matjala reasons with police to give him a chance to find the boys first. Bäru Dirramu (crocodile man) visits Botj, Milika and Lorrpu as they dream.
Botj watches Milika and Lorrpu's ceremony into manhood. Afterwards, he goes to see his estranged mother. The next day, envious of Milika and Lorrpu, Botj pressures them into breaking into the local store. Botj gets into a fight with Lorrpu. Feeling isolated and angry, Botj decides to get high. Memories of Bäru (crocodile) initiation and anxieties about his future flash through his mind and he spins out of control, trashing the Youth Centre.
Miss Appleyard asks if Sarah has memorised the assigned poetry, Sarah remarks she has not because the poem makes no sense, suggesting she recite a poem she wrote to St Valentine. Realising the poem is about love, Miss Appleyard reprimands Sarah and insists she recites the assigned literature. Sarah declares she cannot learn it, refusing to answer why. Miss Appleyard leaves her to study, and Sarah thinks of Bertie and Miranda. The scene suggests the repression of nuanced sexual identity in Victor
Lines from Edgar Allen Poe's 1849 poem A Dream Within a Dream, “what we see and what we seem are but a dream; a dream within a dream” is whispered by the narrator. The introduction of Allen Poe, famous for his mysterious and often macabre stories, situates the enigmatic, dream-like qualities that punctuate the film and suggests the incompatibility of Victorian ideals and the Australian landscape.
Already picnicking is young Englishman Michael Fitzhubert, his uncle and aunt and their driver, Albert. The young Fitzhubert and Albert share a drink, although social status divides them. The girls arrive at their picnic site and toast to St Valentine before slicing a cake. The scene portrays a sense of foreboding in its use of cinematography, sound and repressed sensuality.
The girls reach and open peak on the rock. One of the girls teases Sarah for her poetry dedicated to Miranda; Miranda reminds them that Sarah is an orphan. Iran tells the girls of a doomed dear she once looked after.
Fitzherbert attempts to map his location using paper markers, but the beguiling landscape and prehistoric atmosphere overcome him, and he falls asleep. As he sleeps, he senses the girls' whereabouts but is incapable of reaching them. Albert returns to the rock in search of Fitzhubert, finding him injured and changed. While Fitzhubert sits in the wagon he slips Albert a clue. Realising it relates to the girls, Albert runs up the outcrop, following the paper markers. At the peak, Albert discovers
Sara builds a shrine to Miranda and Mlle. De Poitiers worries about her emotional state. Later, Mlle. De Poitiers brings Irma into the dancing class to say goodbye to the other girls. The girls, including Edith, become hysterical and yell at Irma for her lack of information. Mlle. De Poitiers then discovers Sara tie to the wall, an action the class teacher defends as for her own good.
A doctor inspects Irma and concludes that she is "intact", but remains baffled by her injuries. Later, the school maid discovers a clue but does not dare relay the information to the male inspectors, as it would be improper. The case is hindered by Victorian society's repression of gender and any suggestion of sexuality.
Edith awakes from a nap to find the girls have removed their shoes and are wandering further into the rock. Marion and Miranda ponder the purpose of the world. The girls lay in the open air and creatures and bugs wander around them. The hypnotic music and rhythm of the cinematography of the environment to suggest the girls are beginning to entangle with Hanging Rock. When they wake, Miranda and the others start moving further into the outcrop, unresponsive to Edith's cries.
Albert and Fitzhubert watch the girls from afar. When Albert makes a crude remark Fitzhubert asks him to stop, and Albert responds, "I say them, you just think them". Albert then tells Fitzhubert about his childhood in an orphanage. Fitzherbert is captivated by the girls' angelic presence. Tension builds as the girls venture further into Hanging Rock's labyrinthine formation. Edith becomes upset but follows the girls into the dark recesses.
Miranda sings into the mirror while brushing her hair. Miranda turns to Sara and invites her to visit her wonderful family in Queensland; Sarah shyly nods her desire to do so. Concerned, Miranda reminds Sara to focuses her attention elsewhere. Sara looks hurt and confused. All the students excitedly celebrate St. Valentine's over breakfast. Sara is told that she won't be attending the school excursion. The scene shows the strong gender roles and propriety that marked the early 1900s.
The Appleyard College girls assemble outside the school, awaiting instruction from Miss Appleyard. Greeting the young students, Miss Appleyard reminds the girls of the dangers of Hanging Rock and advises that any "tomboy foolishness" will be punished. The young students are collected in a horse-drawn cart as Sara, who is not allowed to attend the picnic, watches on. Once past the local town, the young girls excitedly free themselves from their gloves.
Appleyard's carriage driver Ben Hussey realises his watch has stopped at 12 o'clock, as has Miss McGraw's. Miranda, Marion, Irma and Edith are permitted to explore the rock. Miranda waves goodbye to Mlle. De Poitiers. Strong imagery of the natural environment is mixed with references to classic European paintings, giving the film a mesmerising and hypnotic quality.
The local police question people who were on Hanging Rock the day Miranda, Marion, Irma went missing. Mlle. De Poitiers and the police inspector take Edith back to the rock in an attempt to learn more about the event. Edith is unhelpful but reveals to Mlle. de Poitiers that Miss McGraw was only in her pantaloons when she passed her running down the hill, a detail that concerns the inspector and Mlle. de Poitiers.