Guillermo del Toro has revealed the full meaning behind the characters in his Oscar-winning The Shape of Water in an exclusive video from the upcoming Blu-ray release.
With The Shape of Water, del Toro was able to tell an old-fashioned monster story in a new and different way. The film follows the mute Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins), who works at a research facility in Baltimore that has just received a groundbreaking new discovery: the Amphibian Man (Doug Jones), a water-dwelling man-fish creature from a river in South America. After seeing the awful treatment that the creature receives from his handler Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon), she befriends the creature through a series of hard-boiled egg lunches and jazz music. Eventually, she breaks him out of the facility – with the help of co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) and neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins) – and tries to save him from the government that wants to use him for horrific experiments and research.
Del Toro has explained what all these characters represent in an exclusive feature from The Shape of Water‘s home video release. The director goes into the meaning behind his three leads Elisa, Zelda and Giles, explaining that each actor is playing some variation of the same character; an “invisible” character that would not have been represented in monster films of the past. In the video, he says, “If we were doing this as a monster movie, the character of Strickland would be a hero and the creature would be the monster. I wanted to reverse those things.”
The Shape of Water‘s digital and physical release comes with a litany of special features. There are a couple of scene analysis pieces, wherein the crew breaks down the construction and production of the prologue sequence as well as the oft-talked about black-and-white dream featuring Elisa and the creature dancing to the 1943 classic, “You’ll Never Know” re-recorded by Renee Fleming and the Symphony Orchestra for the film. There’s also an interview with James Jean, the artist who designed the original hand-drawn poster for The Shape of Water as well as a piece on the film itself, titled “A Fairy Tale for Troubled Times.”
The Shape of Water is one of del Toro’s best-reviewed films, winning four Oscars (including Best Picture and Best Director for del Toro) from 13 nominations. By taking familiar story tropes and even a familiar character design (del Toro was heavily inspired by Creature from the Black Lagoon), he was able to tell this story from a unique and different perspective, and nowhere is that seen better than in the character balance.
The Shape of Water is available on Digital on Movies Anywhere now and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD from March 13.
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