“The Shape of Water” is a 2017 thriller and a story of the underdog, the less privileged, and the misunderstood. This movie takes place in America in the 1950s where a creature, referred to as a “sea god,” is brought into a facility where the protagonist works. The movie follows Eliza, who has been mute since she was born. She lives with her friend, Giles, who is an artist and a closeted gay man. Eliza is also shown working with her best friend Zelda, an African American woman.
The themes of the movie are made apparent by the antagonist, Richard Strickland. He is supposed to be an all-American, successful white man in the 1950s. In this movie, race, power, and sexuality are put on display by the characters.
Giles gets rejected and discriminated against by hitting on a male manager of a cafe. Zelda is constantly being told racist remarks. She is shown going face to face with the Strickland in the movie to show power dynamics at the time. Eliza in the film is either shown feeling powerless or overlooked because she is mute.
The creature represents love and freedom. This unknown creature is supposed to be a “sea god.” They bring the creature to the lab to find out exactly what it is and plan to experiment on it. Strickland is seen beating the creature while also being attacked by it. He asks the creature a question, but it does not answer.
He is shown getting frustrated and getting scolded by his supervisors for not getting answers and losing the creature to Eliza after she steals it. The creature symbolizes Eliza’s sexual and emotional freedom. She and the creature form a bond that she never really had with anyone else. At the end of the movie, Eliza is kissed by the sea god, which gives her gills to breathe underwater.
The movie uses colors to show the state of the characters. The movie uses green everywhere from the facility they work at, the clothes they wear, and even the food they eat. As Eliza starts to bond with the creature, she is seen wearing red as symbolism of love. The blue of the water surrounding Eliza as she wears her red coat at the end of the movie not only makes the scene stand out but shows that she gets to be with the one she loves.
The score in this movie almost contributes to an alien vibe. It highlights the unknown of the creature but also the calmness of the love it has with Eliza.
“The Shape of Water” is worth watching. This movie shows power dynamics, racial issues, sexism, and discrimination which are still prevalent in today’s culture. The movie introduces a new way to tell a love story that does not end in tragedy or betrayal. The shots in this movie could be a desktop or phone screen from how beautiful it is. The symbolism and overarching themes are beautiful and suspensefully presented.