“Unable to perceive the shape of You, I find You all around me. Your presence fills my eyes with Your love, It humbles my heart, For You are everywhere.”
- What is this movie about?
At a top-secret research facility in the 1950s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.
- Why should you (absolutely) watch it?
For once we are presented with a fabulous original fairy tale that is suited not only for children, but for adults too, and it is in this kind of stories that Guillermo del Toro is a master of the universe, without any doubt.
The story is set in the 50s in a secret facility where the government makes experiments and also pursues some investigations. We are presented with the main character, Elisa; a mute woman who works as a cleaner and who one day, while cleaning a room with her colleague and friend, meets a creature that will change her life forever. Yes, it sounds like the typical fairy tale, and this is indeed a fairy tale, but as always, what is important is the way it is told because that it what makes a difference and this one, this movie, it told in the most pure and fantastic of ways.
We are used to the magnificent visuals that Mr del Toro always provides, and in this one he doesn’t let us down. The visuals are simply fabulous: from how the creature is made, to the contrast of colours through the whole movie. While blue is the dominant color of the movie (water is blue, don’t forget), there are some brownish and reddish tonalities that simply complete the colour palette. Then, we have a delightful music that transports you to the water. Tt really feels like you are swimming there with the main characters, which is important, as when we are under water we tend to hear less that when we are on the surface, so here the music creates a surrounding atmosphere that isolates us from the rest. We don’t care anymore about anything else.
But what would this movie be without its main actress? Sally Hawkins has a hard job, as she cannot use her voice to express what her character is feeling, but she has to do it all visually for the audience to comprehend. Needless to say, she is terrific in this role, she is the one that had to play this part, the best choice. Her work is even more highlighted with the help of the brilliant supporting actors that are Octavia Spencer, playing her colleague and friend, and giving some funny moments to us, and Michael Shannon playing the villain, which it always suits him and he never disappoints.
This is one of the best original movies of the last years, which have been filled with sequels, prequels, reboots, remakes, etc. It is a breath of fresh air for someone who is a bit tired of all this lack of imagination that is happening lately in Hollywood. A movie for everyone to enjoy and believe again in fairy tales, or to start believing if you didn’t before.
- Did you know?
– The Shape of Water (2017) won “The Golden Lion” at the 2017 Venice Film Festival.
– The creature design is heavily inspired by the film The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). Michael Shannon’s character even says they picked it up in a river in South America, which is the setting of The Creature from the film.
– It took over nine months to arrive at the look of the creature, and director Guillermo del Toro calls it the most difficult movie he and his team have ever designed.
– This film has similarities with the Soviet novel Amphibian Man (1928) by Belyaev.
– Composer Alexandre Desplat provided the whistling featured in the soundtrack. Guillermo del Toro wanted the score to feature whistling because it contrasted how many scenes of the film feature water.
– Director Guillermo del Toro said about Sally Hawkins, “Not only was she the first choice, she was the only choice. I wrote the movie for Sally, I wrote the movie for Michael [Shannon]… Sally is – I wanted the character of Elisa to be beautiful, in her own way, not in a way that is like a perfume commercial kind of way. That you could believe that this character, this woman would be sitting next to you on the bus. But at the same time she would have a luminosity, a beauty, almost magical, ethereal.”
– According to Danish DP Dan Laustsen, 95% of the film was shot in a studio, and the limited exteriors required lots of rain which had to be artificially created and warmed due to the chilly Canadian winter weather
– The last name of the main character Elisa Esposito is of Italian origin, and is given to children who were abandoned or exposed.
– Director Guillermo del Toro originally wanted to shoot the film in black and white, but ultimately decided against it due to budget restraints.
– Director Guillermo del Toro began working on the film in 2011. He self-financed a crew that designed both the creature and the lab.
– ‘Guillermo Del Toro’ wrote lengthy backstories for each of the major characters, some of them allegedly running over 40 pages long. After casting the roles, he offered them to the actors and said they could choose to utilize or ignore the backstories for their own character. The actors responded differently, with ‘Richard Jenkins’ saying he ignored the backstory, stating “the only thing that matters is what happens on screen”, while ‘Michael Stuhlbarg’ said he read the backstory voraciously and found it helpful in his performance
– Despite visual similarities, director Guillermo del Toro denied that this film has any connections to Hellboy (2004).
– The film is set during a real-life war and features magical elements, a similar setting to director Guillermo del Toro’s earlier film Pan’s Labyrinth (2006).