(Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight)
By: Allison Upchurch, Staff Reporter
With the nominations for Best Picture at the Academy Awards recently announced, the movies on that list reflect the stories and film aesthetics that best capture the idea of what stories to tell and how to tell them most effectively. One of those movies competing for the coveted award is Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water.
This movie takes place sometime in the 1960's where a woman named Eliza (played by Sally Hawkins) works the night shift as a janitor at a research facility in Baltimore. At this research facility, one of the heads of research development named Richard (played by Michael Sharron) brings in a water creature of indeterminate species to be tested in order to get ahead of the Soviets in terms of scientific development. Using her form of communication through sign language, Eliza is able to befriend the creature and sets a plan in motion with her neighbor Giles (played by Richard Jenkins) to set the creature free so that it won't endure any more abuse in the facility.
Tread lightly and with caution when watching this movie. There are moments that may trigger a gag reflex to sensitive viewers that greatly take away from the enjoyment of the movie (i.e. Fingers getting ripped off of a hand and spewing of large amounts of blood). However, for the most part, the plot mainly focuses on setting up how our main characters live their lives in this time period of escalating racial and Cold War tensions that occasionally interrupt with issues regarding the creature.
The characters don’t do anything surprising or out of the ordinary regarding the plot of the story. For the most part, they set up an expectation for the audience and then follow through on that expectation. The actors have great chemistry together, even though most of it goes to convincing that this plot is something completely new even though there have been movies with these themes before (i.e. Free Willy, Beauty and the Beast).
The aesthetics of this movie are greatly inspired by the physical properties of water itself. Most of the colors tones and lighting are murky colors of sea water which are various shades of teals, light greens, and blues. The colors give the movie a proper use of its name by showing what exactly a "shape of water" may look like. This "shape" can also be transferred into the music of this movie which is much inspired by the French style, tone, and language. It allows for a swaying sense of sound to the scenes in the movie, like the rhythm of a body of water flowing in and out of an ocean or lake.
Overall, the best Jesuit value that could be used to connect the Regis community to the themes of The Shape of Water is "finding God in all things". To put a spin on this to incorporate a non-religious outlook, the movie would take "God" and change it to "good" to emphasize the idea of "finding the good in all things". The Shape of Water is able to do this through putting the characters in authentic situations that show the good and the challenging parts of their personalities. This helps bridge more human connections between the audience and these characters allowing for more sympathetic outlooks that don’t rely on labels of "good" or "bad".