Director uses beautiful imagery and emotional storytelling
Monika Antonelli, an MSU campus librarian recommended “The Shape of Water” after a film shoot for my individual study at her house a week ago.
No matter how busy I have been this semester with my hour commute from Fairmont, taking eighteen credits, and working at a part-time job, I wish I would have seen the film much sooner.
So many things could be said on many levels. Do I discuss the beauty in how the images flowed together, scene after scene like the movement of water? Do I marvel at the absence of sound at the most appropriate moments that evoked strong emotion? Do I ramble about how Eliza, the main character, had the most powerful voice despite that she had none except when she chose through her persistent gestures and penetrating expressions? Do I list all the messages that could be received through such an imaginative film filled with such humanitarian themes?
I will do my best to touch on all the questions for the space I have for the article since it deserves unfathomable credit. I agree with what Antonelli said after I had watched the entire movie-I vote the best picture award for “The Shape of Water.”
The opening images of bubbles rising, clocks ticking and a sleeping woman floating set the mood for the multiple messages the film delivers.
Set during the 1960s, “The Shape of Water” is about a friendship that evolves into a romantic relationship between a mute woman who is a maid and a strange creature from South America who is more human than most of the other characters in the movie.
But the movie involves much more than that, in the lives outside of just that main relationship through the interactions and the conflicts. As for the messages, the one that resonated the most with me was the debate of what or rather who is truly a monster.
The creature who is introduced appears somewhat close to a human, except for webbed hands and feet, various amounts of color and texture on his skin gives the initial impression that he is a monster.
But after you learn more about his situation, you are put into his skin, so-to-speak. Richard, one of the main characters who leads the team of scientific investigators, stuns him with a gun for his enjoyment and as a way for him to show who is in charge.
In another scene, the audience learns that Richard is married to a beautiful wife with well-behaved children and in the way he operates, he is a man of power in more ways than one.
With a word about power, Richard also preaches about how man is supposed to dominate over the animals because they are “created in the Lord’s image.” Yet with how he treats even the men below him, he does not value their lives but manipulates them for his own benefits.
If they ultimately fail him, then he verbally threatens and physically abuses them much like how he does the creature.
Eliza, with no voice, carries the most weight when it comes to those she has relationships with, especially the creature when she sees how much Richard tortures him.
Awareness grows in the audience in of how much the creature and Eliza have in common as the plot unfolds. Eliza was an orphan and abandoned by a river and ironically, the team of scientific investigators discovers the creature near a river in South America.
But since Eliza realizes how scared the creature is because of his situation, she finds one of the deepest forms of communication to build a connection with him.
Music becomes the language that both the creature and Eliza use to communicate, especially after she introduces it to him.
She gets in the habit of choosing records and playing them on a recorder when she brings him hardboiled eggs during her lunch break.
She also taps to the music while she mops down the floor in front of the water tank where he is held captive. One of the messages integrated into the plot is that actions carry more meaning than words do.
The most powerful scene of both Eliza and the creature is one of their first together and a long shot foretells that they will become friends. In the long shot, the creature is close to Eliza but what dominates the frame the most is the long chain that imprisons him.
But when she extends the hardboiled egg to him, it is implied to the audience that it is her peace offering to him despite how the rest of the humans have treated him.
I have never seen so many people sit through rolling credits for so long. The lady who had earlier joked to me about having saved a seat for me told me she usually never watches any science fiction or fantasy movie genres but “The Shape of Water” caught her attention.
I responded by saying that all the best imaginative films are supposed to reflect humanitarian or deeper themes than just impressive graphics or strange creatures but those movies are few and far in-between.
I know that is why I am a writer who is exploring becoming director in the future or at the least, aspires to work behind-the-scenes.
Because even if you are not a director, creating the small moments no one else is necessarily conscious of, still matter. Life is sacred, no matter what or who it is and humans are the ones who forget it the most and use excuses.
But we all could do so much better than what we are and films like these serve as reminders to examine our actions in the mirror.