The Shape of Water: A Tale of Love, Otherness, and Imagination

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The shape of water is a paragon of a classic monster movie that triggers a delightful experience; Guillermo Del Toro elegantly entwines whimsical fairy tale with a fresh of a monster movie.  This latest work of Guillermo Del Toro to some degree may be considered his best work to date. He breaks from his norm of creating low budget horror movies such as sequel Blade II, and Hell-boy. The Mexican-American movie creator strived to write his name in Hollywood record book in 2006 when he released Pan’s Labyrinth. In this movie, he portrayed a mixture of romance and horror. 

Since then, he has consistently advanced to a range of artworks such as the blockbuster kaiju-battling robot, extravaganza of the Pacific Rim to his work on Gothic Romance which he featured Crimson Peak. Eventually, he has resurfaced again but this time with a thrilling project sure to receive the attention of the movie viewers (Sinclair 2016, p.24).

The  Shape of water presents Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins), a female mute night-time janitor at Occam Aerospace Research Center in early 1960s Baltimore who routinely watches old musicals with her friend and neighbor, Giles, a secretive young man and a gay who works from home as an artist. Indeed he is a commercial artist working with a talkative friend by the name of Zelda Fuller(Sinclair 2016, p.24). Elisa is portrayed as a contented and jovial lady in her life harvesting joy in little moments, but this takes a new shift forever when the facility purchases a bizarre specimen which they nickname the asset (Doug Jones). Colonel Richard, Dr. Robert, and the other scientists are intending to put the asset understudy despite the fact that Strickland disdains the creature. Hoffstetler, on the contrary, is fascinated by the creature.    

Elisa is depicted as being pleased by the `asset’ and makes attempts to be friends with it by giving it boiled eggs and teaching it to sign language too which is her main means of communication. As time goes by she becomes disturbingly attached to the `asset’ when she learned the scientists have decided to vivisect it, despite the objection by Dr. Hoffstetler, she plots for the escape of the `asset from the facility (Derr 2017, p.22).                                     

However, she does not manage to execute the plan alone hence she requests Zelda and Giles to assist who only manage by surprise assistance of Dr. Hoffstetler who is having vested interest in his assistance. After freeing the creature, Elisa grows intensely closer to the creature thus falling in love with it and plans to release back to the sea. The hunt of the amphibious man is intensified by Strickland who also investigates those behind the escape of the creature. At this point, Elisa and the amphibious creatures’ predicaments escalate, and their feeling for each other does not help save the situation (Derr 2017, p.22). 

The Shape of water is a beautiful story that depicts a lovely mixture of a classic fairy tale of romance that can be likened to love between the beauty and the beast. The movie features the amphibious man to pay homage and respect to the ostensible monster in the Creature from Black Lagoon.

Further, the movie maximally utilizes its setting in 1960s Baltimore connoting the Cold War stint. McCarthyism offers view of politic traces and to some degree shades light on the mentality of Strickland who is perceptibly the villain and the real monster of the movie (Davies 2007, p.136).

Essentially, the blending of genres and tropes imparts to the shape of water a fantastic feeling with captivating elements contrasted by the reality of political undertones. The theme of the form of water in more notable instances, the co-star being amphibious man provides the movie with compelling visuals. Water and light are dazzlingly employed in many instances.

In addition the shape of water that underlines the quality of the movie of realistic and surreal elements; still make-up and lights lend credence to the portrayal of the amphibious creature. 

The finishing of the movie by the characters creates more believability, for instance, Hawkins plays on the depiction of a woman who is lonely and withdrawn especially against the backdrop of merciless conformity in the 1960s(Davies 2007, p.138). The lonely and withdrawn woman weirdly finds love in another creature.

Through the significant and heart touching scenes Hawkins infrequently shines, though her performance in short scenes is humorous and unduly magical.  Hawkins thus is reinforced by the amphibious man (Davies 2007, p.139). Del Toro in collaboration with his casting crew breathe life into a unique fairy tale which is a composite of both genres to create a movie that in entirety is thrilling; despite instances of tropes and few elements introduced that in the end do not have much pertinence in assisting characters to exploit the world around them(Davies 2007, p.139).    

Subtly these elements lend the shape of Water the quality of verisimilitude since in most occasions reality stories are not tidy storylines with narrative postures that bend when the credits roll. This lends Del Toro’s movie magical quality reinforced by the juxtaposition of ideal story elements with classic fairy tale texture.

The superb magical realism of the Shape of water is not exaggerated and makes it be lauded as unique and a creative piece of art.

The shape of water is one of the unique artwork that lends voice to the voiceless and a testament of how the voiceless may find strength in their silence.

The movie is more than a romance story as it is about love that surpasses kisses and chocolates; it is a love story about championship, comfort, belonging somewhere and having a voice that someone will listen to.

Del Toro overplays his hand in the characterization of the hero. Somewhere midway through the movie, he portrays Giles as a gay; he (Giles) visits a restaurant, and the owner chases him away together with a black couple who came to have a meal (Davies 2007, p.140). Albeit unnecessary to the story this scene highlights hospitality to the outsiders and anger to those who constrain them from it. This is the revelation of the simplistic reduction of cold-war-era when the society has castes that every individual had to identify him or herself with; for instance, the narrow-minded villains and the open-minded dreamers. The movie's point of view is comprehensible and likable just as the main character her friends (Davies 2007, p.141). Del Toro unravels and deciphers every bit that no room is left for counterarguments or even just pundit thoughts  

In the end, his point of view is bitten by bit constricting as the giant tank housing the creature at the lab consequently turning the movie by all its commendable intentions and visual imaginations limitation inexperience.


Davies, A., 2007. The beautiful and the monstrous masculine: The male body and horror in El     espinazo del diablo (Guillermo del Toro 2001). Studies in Hispanic Cinemas (new title:     Studies in Spanish & Latin American Cinemas), 3(3), pp.135-147.

Derry, K., 2017. The Shape of Water. Journal of Religion & Film, 21(2), p.22.

Sinclair, M., 2016. The dark fantastic of Guillermo del Toro: Myth, fascism, and             theopolitical    imagination in" Cronos"," The Devil's Backbone", and" Pan's Labyrinth".      Pacifica           Graduate Institute.

September 25, 2023

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