The Shape of Water (2017)

R   |    |  Adventure, Drama, Fantasy


The Shape of Water (2017) Poster

At a top secret research facility in the 1960s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.


7.3/10
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4 February 2018 | OtherShipwrecks
6
| Self-congratulatory and Gratuitous, the Perfect Candidate for the Oscars
The Shape of Water is really quite remarkable for how perfectly it embodies the mainstream Hollywood sensibility. Its liberal-progressive undertone appears to be culturally relevant, but completely fails to challenge the audience in any meaningful way. Its story of people living at the margins of society bonding over their mutually subjugated status appears progressive and edgy, but its self-congratulatory moralizing suspends any need for serious cultural reflection. It is really the perfect film for politically correct liberals.

The film features the quintessential villain in the liberal cultural imagination today - a racist, sexist, ableist, psychopathic straight white man in the 60s with a white suburban nuclear family. The film really tries to show us how much of a psychopath he is, so that it can score progressive points without having to acknowledge or confront the larger systems of racism, patriarchy, and capitalism which operate as the social fabric of American society and provide the structural condition for people's exploitation and oppression.

In this regard, the film truly epitomizes the ideological manipulations of liberal humanism. Political, legal, social, and historical structures are conveniently ignored and replaced by a narrow focus on individual prejudices and cruelty. Social injustices are explained by the evil of specific individuals. Oppressed minorities are endlessly ennobled and their humanity uncritically celebrated. Villains are reduced to caricatures and do bad things simply because they are bad people.

Reveling in its technical competence and feel-good petit-bourgeois sensibility, the film is utterly unaware of its cultural vapidity, its artistic mediocrity, and its sinister complicity with the status quo. Sprinkled with some gratuitous violence, it is the perfect candidate for the Oscars - a polished, glib, pandering, ostensibly radical but ultimately uninspired fairy tale peddling a complacent and clichéd liberal humanism.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Shane Mahans primary goal was to make sure the team was hitting the milestones needed to have a fully functional creature suit ready for the first day of shooting in Toronto, Canada. Once on-set in Toronto, the team numbers were kept to a minimum. "We were a four-man team, including two local Toronto makeup artists who we've worked with a lot over the last twenty years. It was Sean Sansom, Jason Detheridge, Mike Hill, and myself." Not having access to the full Legacy Effects team back in LA meant that the four of them were solely responsible throughout the shoot for every aspect of the makeup including prep, application, touch-ups, and repair. "Mike Hill and I would spend our weekends and evenings repairing the suit and fixing the electronics. Luckily, Sean is quite good with electronics because we had to take apart the gills many times due to water damage and put them back together." The total application took three hours each day, an impressive feat for a full body makeup with animatronics. Shane explained that keeping the time down was necessary to prevent cutting into shooting hours. "We had just gone through a lot of experimentation on Guardians of the Galaxy 2 with reducing makeup time and three hours seems to be a magical number. It's tolerable. Anything beyond that becomes excessively wearisome on both the makeup artists and the actors." By the end of the shoot, Shane, Mike, and the team had orchestrated the perfect system to work efficiently. However, it didn't come without setbacks. Even with the momentum they had gained from doing the makeup repeatedly, the suits were deteriorating little by little, requiring them to improvise and find solutions. Doug Jones didn't have a double, only the occasional stuntman. So he was in the suit all day every day. "In the end, we were sewing Doug into the suit because adhesives are just not durable for water. I didn't anticipate that I would have to sew the back of the head to the suit and fill it with silicone caulking," Mahan said with nervous laughter, as if reliving the moment on set, "Stuff like that happened out of necessity, and we were using everything to solve it. Sewing techniques, zip ties, etc. All the nice subtle things at the beginning of the shoot (snaps, buckles, and corset style lacing) went out the window because the water just destroyed everything." It was a conscious decision to make a creature that would physically be on-set to act alongside Sally Hawkins. "Sally could look at him and see him glowing. The best acting is reacting as they say. It's all very tangible, and I think that's what makes it feel like a love story."


Quotes

Giles: If I spoke about it - if I did - what would I tell you? I wonder. Would I tell you about the time? It happened a long time ago, it seems. In the last days of a fair prince's reign. Or would I tell you about the place? A small city near the coast, ...


Goofs

Elisa gives the wrong sign for the medium egg, she should have used an extra digit.


Crazy Credits

The opening credits roll over footage of a flooded apartment.


Soundtracks

I Know Why (and So Do You)
Music by
Harry Warren
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Performed by Glenn Miller with Pat Friday, John Payne & The Modernaires
From the Motion Picture Sun Valley Serenade (1941)
Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Adventure | Drama | Fantasy | Romance | Thriller

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