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"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 boundaries.

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 actors.

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 psyche.

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 BACKBONE. Each 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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