THE SHAPE OF WATER
"Water takes the shape of whatever is holding it at the time and although water
can be so gentle, it's also
the most powerful and malleable force in the universe. That's also love, isn't
it? It doesn't matter what shape
we put love into, it becomes that, whether it's man, woman or creature."
--Guillermo del Toro on THE SHAPE OF WATER
In a secret government laboratory at the height of the Cold War, a visually
dazzling, emotionally daring feat of
the imagination erupts. Master storyteller Guillermo del Toro casts an
other-worldly spell with THE SHAPE OF
WATER, merging the pathos and thrills of the classic monster movie tradition
with shadowy film noir, then stirring
in the heat of a love story like no other to explore the fantasies we all flirt
with, the mysteries we can't control and the
monstrosities we must confront.
Del Toro opens his tale deep underwater. From there the entire film becomes an
act of breathless submersion,
plunging the audience into a 1960s world full of things we recognize - power,
anger, intolerance; as well as loneliness,
determination and sudden, electrifying connections - and one extraordinary
creature we do not. An inexplicable
biological "asset" of the U.S. government, a mute cleaning woman, her loving
best friends, Soviet spies and an
audacious theft all flow into a singular romance that surges beyond all
This mystery-shrouded amphibious being has not only been hauled up from the
dark, watery depths, but seems
to have the fundamental adaptive qualities of water - taking on the psychic
contours of every human he encounters,
reflecting back both aggression and fathomless love.
Within del Toro's storytelling, the themes of good and evil, innocence and
menace, the historical and the eternal,
beauty and monstrosity weave in and out of each other, revealing that no
darkness can ever fully defeat the light.
Summarizes del Toro: "I like to make movies that are liberating, that say it's
okay to be whoever you are, and it
seems that at this time, this is very pertinent." It was also paramount that
there be an extraordinary collection of
For del Toro, the passion for simultaneously haunting and enchanting audiences
goes back a long way. A native
of Guadalajara, Mexico, he nourished himself as a boy on the infinite mysteries
of ghost stories, monster movies and
fables that ignited his own wildly inventive interior fantasy life. When he
started writing and directing films, all those
influences twined into a viscerally expressive visual style all his own, one
that seemed to tap directly into the human
Del Toro is best renowned for his three inspired Spanish-language films that
reinvent and upend the very notion
of genre: the multiple Oscar-winning PAN'S LABYRINTH, CRONOS, and THE DEVIL'S
a vivid phantasmagoria navigating the moral and physical dangers of a world of
corruption, authoritarianism and war.
His supernatural action epics are equally as inventive - BLADE II, the HELLBOY
series, and PACIFIC RIM, as well
as his gothic romance CRIMSON PEAK.
THE SHAPE OF WATER follows in that tradition, but this time in socially divided
1960s America on the brink
of nuclear war and sweeping cultural changes. Del Toro weaves in the dizzying
landscape of falling in love, as a
lonely woman with a traumatic past discovers a love so overpowering it defies
suspicion, fear and biology.
Del Toro also assembled an extraordinary collection of actors for the film. The
talented ensemble includes
Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg
and Octavia Spencer.
Exploring the idea of love and its barriers, internal and external, was
paramount to del Toro. "I wanted to create
a beautiful, elegant story about hope and redemption as an antidote to the
cynicism of our times. I wanted this story
to take the form of a fairytale in that you have a humble human being who
stumbles into something grander and more
transcendental than anything else in her life. And then I thought it would be a
great idea to juxtapose that love against
something as banal and evil as the hatred between nations, which is the Cold
War, and the hatred between people due
to race, color, ability and gender."
The fact that the film's two leads don't speak, not conventionally anyway, only
heightens the love story by
stripping away the miscommunications that often stand between humans. "One thing
about love is that it is so
incredibly powerful, it doesn't require words," says del Toro.
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