The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water Information

The Shape of Water is a 2017 American fantasy drama film directed by Guillermo del Toro and written by del Toro and Vanessa Taylor. The film stars Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Octavia Spencer. Set in Baltimore in 1962, the plot follows a mute custodian at a high-security government laboratory who befriends a captured amphibian creature.

The film was screened in the main competition section of the 74th Venice International Film Festival, where it premiered on August 31, 2017, and was awarded the Golden Lion for best film in the competition. It also screened at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. The Shape of Water has received acclaim, with many critics declaring it del Toro's best film since Pan's Labyrinth, and particularly praising Hawkins's performance.

The American Film Institute selected it as one of the top 10 films of the year. The film received seven nominations for the 75th Golden Globe Awards: Best Motion Picture - Drama, Best Director, Best Actress - Drama for Hawkins, Best Supporting Actress for Spencer, Best Supporting Actor for Jenkins, Best Screenplay, and Best Original Score.

The Shape of Water began a December 1, 2017 limited release in two theaters in New York City, before expanding wider on December 8, 2017, and has grossed $13 million. A novelized adaptation of the film, written by del Toro and Daniel Kraus, will be released on February 27, 2018.


Elisa Esposito was rendered mute by a neck injury she sustained as an infant. She was found by a river as an infant, and raised as an orphan. She communicates by using American Sign Language. She works the night shift as a janitor at the Occam Aerospace Research Center in Baltimore during the Cold War in the early 1960s. She lives in an apartment above a movie theater, where she follows a daily routine. Before going to work, she prepares hard boiled eggs for her lunch, and bathes and quickly masturbates before the egg timer goes off. Her two closest friends are a middle aged artist, Giles, who lives in the adjoining apartment, and is a closeted gay man, and Zelda, an African-American co-worker who serves as her sign language interpreter at work.

One day, the facility receives a creature in a tank which has been captured by Colonel Richard Strickland from a river in South America. Strickland calls the creature the "Asset". During a confrontation, the creature bites off two of Strickland's fingers, which Elisa recovers while cleaning up the bloody mess. An attempt is made to reattach the fingers, but the procedure eventually fails.

Elisa soon discovers that the creature is an amphibian-humanoid. She begins visiting him where he is restrained by shackles and chains. Elisa spends time with the amphibian man, feeding him hard-boiled eggs and sharing Big Band played on a portable phonograph turntable. The two begin to trust each other and become friends, even though neither can speak. They communicate through sign language.

Strickland's superior, General Hoyt, wants to dissect or vivisect his body for research in space travel technology. One scientist, Robert Hoffstetler (who is actually a Soviet spy named Dmitri), pleads with Hoyt and Strickland to keep the creature alive for further study. His plea is dismissed, but Elisa has overheard the entire conversation. Robert's Russian spymasters instruct him to euthanize the creature, preferring to prevent American researchers from gaining an advantage over Soviet scientists.

Elisa convinces Giles to help free the amphibian man on the day scheduled for his dissection. As Robert wonders what to do, he discovers Elisa's plot and decides to help them. When Elisa encounters Zelda, reveals the amphibian man's existence as she and the creature escape with Robert's assistance.

Elisa submerges the creature in her apartment bathtub, keeping him alive using salt and special water conditioning chemicals smuggled out by Robert. The next night, Strickland interrogates both Elisa and Zelda, but he turns his suspicions elsewhere due to their menial jobs.

As Giles keeps watch over the creature in the bathtub, he dozes off. The amphibian man then kills and partially eats one of Giles's cats, but alarmed at being discovered, runs off after slashing Giles's arm with his claws, and takes refuge in the movie theater. After Elisa finds and returns the amphibian man to her apartment, she and Giles both discover that he can become luminescent when touched. After Giles is touched by the amphibian man on his balding head as well as on his wounded arm, he wakes up the next morning to discover that his hair has grown back, and the slash on his arm is completely healed. Elisa and the amphibian man become intimate, and have sex for the first time.

Realizing the amphibian man cannot remain in her apartment, Elisa plans to release him within days into a nearby canal on a rainy night. Elisa floods her apartment and again has sex with the creature. Meanwhile, Hoyt threatens Strickland's life if he does not recover the missing Asset within 36 hours. At the same time, Robert's spymasters tell him that he will be extracted in two days' time.

No longer able to provide the artificial water conditioning chemicals the amphibian man needs to survive, Elisa and Giles see that his health is deteriorating, forcing them to act. The time of the amphibian man's release approaches as heavy rain arrives. Strickland follows Robert to his meeting with his Soviet spymasters. They shoot him, but before they can finish the job, Strickland kills them. His Soviet connections revealed, Robert is tortured by Strickland into giving information about who rescued the Asset. Robert implicates Elisa and Zelda, and is abandoned to die of his wounds. Strickland then forces his way into Zelda's home and threatens her while seeking more information, causing her terrified husband to reveal Elisa's connections to the escape. Searching through Elisa's apartment, Strickland finds a note on her calendar revealing her location.

At the canal, Elisa and Giles give farewells to the amphibian man, but Strickland suddenly arrives. He punches Giles and shoots the amphibian man and Elisa. Giles manages to get the upper hand on Strickland while the amphibian man heals his own gunshot wounds before slashing Strickland's throat with his claws. As Zelda and the police arrive at the scene, the amphibian man pulls Elisa into the canal, where he uses his abilities to heal her wounds. The creature transforms the scars on the side of her neck into amphibian gills, giving her the ability to breathe underwater and allowing them to escape together.


  • Sally Hawkins as Elisa Esposito, a mute janitor at a secret research facility
  • Michael Shannon as Colonel Richard Strickland, the man in charge of the creature research team
  • Richard Jenkins as Giles, Elisa's friend and neighbor, a closeted commercial artist
  • Octavia Spencer as Zelda Fuller, Elisa's friend and co-worker
  • Doug Jones as Amphibian Man, an amphibian-humanoid creature, the "Asset" being held captive at the facility
  • Michael Stuhlbarg as Dr. Robert Hoffstetler, one of the lab's scientists
  • Lauren Lee Smith as Elaine Strickland, Richard's wife, who raises their two children in a stereotypical suburban home
  • Nick Searcy as General Hoyt, Strickland's gruff and demanding sponsor
  • David Hewlett as Fleming


The idea for The Shape of Water formed during del Toro's breakfast with Daniel Kraus in 2011, with whom he later co-wrote the novel Trollhunters. It shows similarities to the 2015 short film The Space Between Us, also Rachel Ingalls's novel Mrs. Caliban. It was also primarily inspired by del Toro's childhood memories of seeing Creature from the Black Lagoon and wanting to see Gill-man and the film's co-star Julie Adams to succeed in their romance. When del Toro was in talks with Universal to direct a remake of Creature from the Black Lagoon, he tried pitching a version focused more on the creature's perspective, where the Creature ended up together with the female lead, but the studio executives rejected the concept.

del Toro set the film during the 1960s Cold War era to counteract today's heightened tensions, specifying, "if I say once upon a time in 1962, it becomes a fairy tale for troubled times. People can lower their guard a little bit more and listen to the story and listen to the characters and talk about the issues, rather than the circumstances of the issues."

Filming began on August 15, 2016 in Hamilton, Ontario, and wrapped on November 6, 2016.

Alexandre Desplat is the composer of the film's score.

In an interview with IndieWire about the film, del Toro said, "This movie is a healing movie for me. ... For nine movies I rephrased the fears of my childhood, the dreams of my childhood, and this is the first time I speak as an adult, about something that worries me as an adult. I speak about trust, otherness, sex, love, where we're going. These are not concerns that I had when I was nine or seven."


Box office

After grossing $4.6 million over three weeks of limited release, the film began its wide release on December 22, 2017, alongside the openings of Downsizing, Pitch Perfect 3 and Father Figures, and the wide expansion of Darkest Hour, and grossed $3.1 million from 726 theaters over the weekend.

Critical response

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 93% based on 233 reviews, with an average rating of 8.4/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "The Shape of Water finds Guillermo del Toro at his visually distinctive best"?and matched by an emotionally absorbing story brought to life by a stellar Sally Hawkins performance." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 86 out of 100, based on 50 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".

Ben Croll of IndieWire gave the film an A and called it "one of del Toro's most stunningly successful works... also a powerful vision of a creative master feeling totally, joyously free." Writing for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars, praising Hawkins's performance, the cinematography and del Toro's direction, and saying: "Even as the film plunges into torment and tragedy, the core relationship between these two unlikely lovers holds us in thrall. Del Toro is a world-class film artist. There's no sense trying to analyze how he does it."

In Minnesota Daily, Haley Bennett reacted positively, writing, "The Shape of Water has tenderness uncommon to del Toro films. [...] While The Shape of Water isn't groundbreaking, it is elegant and mesmerizing."

The film won the Golden Lion at the 74th Venice Film Festival.


See List of accolades received byThe Shape of Water(film) for more information

See also

  • Beauty and the Beast (1946 film) - a classic film treatment of similar themes, directed by Jean Cocteau
  • Creature from the Black Lagoon - film featuring a creature whose appearance resembles the Asset

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "The_Shape_of_Water_%28film%29" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



Page generated in 0.28329515457153 seconds