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‘The Shape of Water’ by Guillermo del Toro is an other-worldly fairy tale

The Shape of Water by Mexican director Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) is a horror story about a deaf woman who falls in love with a water creature held in a military lab.

The Shape of Water (2017)

Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is a lonely mute who works in a Cold War era secret government laboratory. Her quiet and her job are numbing and isolating.

When Elisa and her co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a top secret experiment, Elisa’s life is changed forever.

It’s a man-like water creature (Doug Jones) from the Amazon region. Think Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). Government scientists want to dissect, analyze, and weaponize. Elisa wants to love and be loved.

…if we do nothing, neither are we…

By connecting Elisa discovers her own beauty and humanity. It doesn’t really matter where it comes from, love is all we need.

The Meaning of The Shape of Water

In a way, this is a metaphor for a multicultural relationship. There are so many things about each other that you just don’t understand (sometimes that helps).

Your differences are fascinating. You have two worlds to share. Everyone telling you avoid a mixed relationship just pushes you closer together. When it works, it’s beautiful.

Don’t do this Eliza. Don’t do this.

The story is also a metaphor for the immigrant experience. If you look any different from the natives, you are considered to be an inhuman freak. Dehumanization is the first step towards abuse and even murder.

When he looks at me, he doesn’t know how I am incomplete. He sees me as I am.

All God’s creatures are united by the spark of life. In Del Toro’s world, even monsters are beautiful. And you know what? He is right.

If I told you about her, what would I say? I wonder.

It’s unlikely that Del Toro consciously set out to promote multiculturalism, but great artists tap the universal subconscious.

Seeing The Shape of Water

The film’s world premiere is at the Venice International Film Festival on Thursday, August 31, 2017 at 8:30am.

The Shape of Water opens at the Angelika Film Center in Greenwich Village and the AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 on Thursday, December 1, 2017. (It was originally scheduled for December 8.)

The movie has expanded citywide.

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