Whimsical fairy tale with a fresh spin

views 576 2018-03-27 11:30:00 entertainment

From the horror of encountering a monstrous being to a blossoming romantic flick ‘The Shape of Water’ can be best described as a fairytale for adults. Set against the backdrop of the Cold War era in America around 1962 the tale unfolds.

In the hidden high-security government laboratory where she works, lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in a life of isolation. Elisa's life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment.

The lover’s perspective

‘The Shape of Water’ is a ‘Beauty and the Beast’ tale. It is the story about a woman who falls in love with a creature who ends up being kinder and more humane than most men. This suggests that inner beauty is more virtuous than external attractiveness. With one key difference the lover’s perspective does not change. In most films, essential characters undergo a shifting of values. The way they see the world at the beginning of the movie is the opposite of how they see it at the end of it. This is true for the most ‘Beauty and the Beast’ tales in which the lovers are initially repulsed by each other and eventually understand their surprisingly common interests.

However this is not so in the case of ‘The Shape of Water’. Eliza and the Amphibian Man (Doug Jones) are infatuated at first sight. Even before she meets the creature Eliza has a metaphysical connection with all things aquatic. The opening shots show her dreaming of living in an undersea kingdom. She takes long pleasurable baths. She repeatedly boils eggs in water, symbols of her own fertility that she later shares with her new lover. Her courtship with the creature proceeds linearly from there. They never fight or misinterpret each other. They just fall deeper and deeper in love.

Here, Elisa is the ‘Princess without a voice.’ Director Guillermo del Toro had related that he wanted to create ‘a new type of Beauty and the Beast’ in which the beauty is someone you can relate to. This means that she is not a perfect princess. The creature is the heartthrob of the movie. While, the apple pie image of a successful all American provider Michael Shannon’s Colonel Strickland is the cold war – era Gaston, who appears picture perfect but is a beast inside.

The key difference that separates this film from ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is that ‘the beast does not need to transform to find love’. Del Toro had revealed this fact on Variety. The beast has to transform into a human to live happily ever after. The amphibious creature does not have to change. Eliza ends up entering his underwater world. This reminds us of the princess becoming an ogre at the end of ‘Shrek’.

Ultimately del Toro builds on his influences to embrace a result that is wholly original and perhaps weirder and more spectacular than anything we have seen before in the monster – a human romantic genre.


‘The Shape of Water’ is still a story about transformation. The perspective that changes in this movie is our own represented by our supporting characters. Octavia Spencer as Zelda, Richard Jenkins as Giles and Michael Stuhlbarg as Hostetler (A.k.a) Dmitri bring about this idea.

Initially these people, just like us, view the creature as a monster - a source of mystery and danger. Over time their views soften and they recognize the beauty that Eliza saw from the get – go.

(under the courtesy of dailynews.lk news web)

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