“If we do nothing, neither are we.” – Elisa in the Shape of Water
I’m sure that most of you already have heard about Guillermo del Toro The Shape of Water as it’s highly praised, got nominated for 13 Oscars and won in four categories. I loved Pans Labyrinth and Crimson Peak, so I had an idea of del Toros work, but I purposely didn’t want to read or watch anything about his new masterpiece, so a few weeks ago, my friend and I went to the cinema without really knowing what to expect.
The story is based in the early 60s in Baltimore and it follows a young mute woman called Elisa (Sally Hawkins) who works at a secret laboratory as a charlady with her friend Zelda (Octavia Spencer). After work, she spends her most time with her next door neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins), who is a struggling and frustrated artist. Her life is very organised, slick and quite lonely. One day, she hears about a secret project at the laboratory. She discovers that a humanoid amphibian is being held in captivity by the Goverment at the very same laboratory. Secretly sneaking into the lab-room as much as she can, she connects with the mysterious creature, and they form a bond.
I absolutely adore the Cinematography (Dan Laustsen) in this. Everything is slightly green and bluish. The set seems wet and cold and is quite minimal, only showing the protagonists apartment and the laboratory, which creates a very intimate feeling. The whole film is very dream-like and when I left the cinema, I truly felt that this film is magical, warm and beautifully shot.
The performances of all the actresses and actors are incredible and when I heard that Alexandre Desplat was the man behind that soundtrack, I wasn’t surprised at all since I absolutely love his work and this soundtrack is no exception. There are some very cruel, quite yucky incidences between all this magic moments, which del Toro also did in Pans Labyrinth and I feel like bringing cruelty in his magical worlds is his way of getting us back to the reality every now and then.
All in all, I loved this film and get the praise around it. The story itself does sound weird, bizzar and confusing at some points and to be honest, it did feel weird to me. But I feel like this film isn’t about the story at all.
The film starts with a narrator telling the story of a “Princess without Voice” and I feel like that that is the main message of the film. The story is based at the early 60s, the cold war era, where being different was trouble. The civil rights movement has just started, the United States are in a cold war with the Sowjet Union.
Our protagonists are a mute woman, a black lady and a gay man. They experienced rejection, hate, prejudice, restriction and humiliation. They struggle through an era of Hate and Disrespect and they only have each other to comfort. Maybe, they feel unfulfilled by the lives they have been given and in fact, their voices are often not heard. Then, out of nowhere there is this beautiful creature, who communicates without words, who sees people for just what they are without judgement. The Shape of Water is about Tolerance, Acceptance and Communication. And as we all know, this storyline is a timeless one.
Have you guys seen The shape of Water? I’d love to hear your opinions!