Celebrated Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro is back with “The Shape of Water” which is the most unlikely of creative species — a monster movie that is generating awards-season buzz.
Set in 1962, “The Shape of Water” chronicles the friendship and love between Eliza, a mute cleaning lady in a top-secret government laboratory played by Sally Hawkins, and a nameless aquatic human-like creature.
Ahead of its release in December, the Cold War-era set film has been lauded by critics and won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival over the weekend.
The allegorical romantic fantasy, which also stars Michael Shannon and Octavia Spencer, is more “Beauty and the Beast” than “Frankenstein.” Unveiling the movie at the Toronto International Film Festival, del Toro — whose previous fantasy movies include “Hellboy” and “Pan’s Labyrinth” — was keen to stress the weightier themes of “The Shape of Water.”
At the Toronto press conference for the movie, del Toro said of the current U.S. political situation: “It’s like a cancer. We have a tumor now. That doesn’t mean the cancer started with that tumor. It was gestating for so long.”
del Toro elaborated to MarketWatch about his new film: “It’s about now; about what we are living politically and what we are living ideologically. The movie is about 1962 only in appearance. It’s about today and decisions that we can make in the world every day.”
He added: “I don’t want to make it sound like a political manifesto- the movie started six years ago. As a Mexican that atmosphere has been always there but what I’m trying to say in the movie is ‘1962 is now’. It’s exactly the same thing. [President Trump’s administration] has made it more emotional and more immediate.”
Disney and diversity:
He might have made a sentimental fairy-tale but don’t expect del Toro to work with Walt Disney
anytime soon. “There’s art and beauty and power in the primal images of fantasy,” he said at a Q&A following the movie. “But I wanted to show somebody real. She [Hawkins’ character Eliza ] masturbates in the bathtub and smokes – she’s not a Disney f—ing princess. And the creature is a god, but he eats the f—ing cat.”
Highlighting diversity issues is seemingly a top priority for del Toro. He added: “I set the movie in 1962 specifically because when people say, ‘Let’s make America great again,’ they’re dreaming of that era… everything was super great if you were a White Anglo Saxon Protestant. If you were anything else, you were f—ed. It hasn’t changed much.”
— The Shape of Water (@shapeofwater) July 19, 2017
Love trumps hate:
“The Shape of Water” is all about love for del Toro. “ A love of cinema, love of literature, fairy tales, Japanese engravings — you name it,” he said of the film’s themes. “It’s a movie with enormous appetite for life and love.” This spills over into its message. “It’s a movie that urges you to choose love over fear,” he said. “To choose hope over hatred. We are afraid of love. But it’s the one thing Jesus and The Beatles agreed upon! Silly as it may sound, love is the answer to everything.”
“The Shape of Water” might not be short of emotion and feeling but the movie’s budget isn’t substantial by Hollywood blockbuster standards. “We crammed a $60 million movie on $19.5 million,” del Toro said. “That meant you had to have an open mind but watch out for the tone. Tone is a pedal. If the tone is broken, the movie collapses.”