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The Shape of Water

A fairy tale for troubled times. 

Year: 2017 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is expected to have certain elements which are subtitled, but it is not expected that the entire film will contain them. 
Directed by Guillermo del Toro 
Starring: Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer  
An image from The Shape of Water

Del Toro’s imagination knows no boundaries. Anyone who has seen any of his films knows that they tend to be quite a unique experience. The Shape of Water, his 10th feature film as director, is not an exception, and it is, in fact, one of his best creations, if not the best, as director, writer and producer. It comes to no surprise, then, that it has received more nominations than any other film at most international film awards, and has managed to win more than once in multiple categories.

The story is undeniably peculiar: with hints of 1950s classics like Creature from the Black Lagoon, and of the Soviet cult film Amphibian Man from 1962, which is, coincidentally (or not), the year in which the film is set, The Shape of Water follows the daily routine of Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) a mute cleaner at a high-security government facility, who one day befriends a mysterious, amphibian, humanoid creature in one of the laboratories she is required to clean.

Del Toro has a clear message, but chooses to deliver it with gifted creativity and originality. The Shape of Water is, in fact, a film about ‘others’. There’s Zelda (Octavia Spencer), the black woman who helps Elisa throughout the story; Giles, Elisa’s coveted homosexual neighbour, whose hand-painted illustrations fail to keep up with the print revolution; there’s Elisa herself, who, mute and orphaned, feels left behind by the vociferous and fast-paced society that surrounds her, and then there’s the creature, the epitome of otherness.

With Alexandre Desplat’s charming score, punctuated by popular songs from the 40s and 50s, Dan Laustsen’s dreamy cinematography, Paul D. Austerberry’s fantastic production design, The Shape of Water is an absolute wonder from every angle.

Marta Meazza

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Screenings of this film:

2017/2018 Summer Term (digital)
2017/2018 Summer Term (digital)