The Shape of Water

“The Shape of Water”. This movie is about the beautiful relationship between a mysterious creature chained in a laboratory and Elisa, a young mute girl.

We think of god as a supreme being having power over nature and human fortunes. However, this movie makes us think that maybe the gods we worship were people in the past possessing few super powers. The creature is a humanoid amphibian, who is captured from a South American river by Colonel Richard Strickland. The creature is worshipped as god from where he comes. He does possess some super powers but is actually a human form, who needs water for his survival.

The captive is subjected to brutal torture in the name of science and national security. “The Asset,” as his minders call him, poses no threat to anyone. He is at the mercy of a ruthlessly predatory species, which is to say us. Elisa, a member of the laboratory’s night time cleaning staff, plays jazz records for the piscine captive, feeds him hard-boiled eggs and before long falls in love with him. The movie shows us that there is no language of love. Elisa’s long since acclimatised to not being heard. That’s one thing that makes the Asset different from so many of the men in her life. He listens. Neither Elisa nor the Asset possesses the power of speech, they communicate through gestures and, since both can hear, through music.

Zelda, Elisa’s best friend and co-worker, already viewed with disdain by the lab’s white employees because she’s black, is married to a man she loves but who seems to see her as an inconvenience. She stands up for Elisa till the end and helps her in freeing the Asset as well. Giles, a gay man who lives next door to Elisa, is her best friend too. He is an artist whose advertising career has been derailed. He’s in the closet with a love life that doesn’t extend beyond gentle flirtations with the guy behind the counter at his local diner. When Elisa tells him about the creature, it takes a while for him to understand that its plight, and his, are both part of the same struggle. Even fearsome Strickland is being ground down by forces beyond his control, from the demands of his military overseers to his determination to be seen as a success on society’s terms. “This is the car of the future, and you strike me as a man on his way there!” a Cadillac salesman chirpily tells him – so of course five minutes later, he’s in the driver seat.

Thus, all in all, this film has depicted various stories in a wonderful way, and each story manages to convey its meaning effectually. It paints borders rooted deep in the American soul — between countries, races, abilities, and desires — with compassion and gentleness. The Shape of Water is devoted to reminding us that everyone is beautiful, and that it’s those we cravenly consider maimed and strange and frightening who will inherit the earth. It’s a fantasy that strikes a note of hope, and suggests that real love means crossing the divides we erect between us and those different from us.

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