A Cold War Fairy Tale

I`m not good at fantasy, nor at its literature angle, either at a cinematic one. To my mind, films about real life, true feelings, events, past and current, are better. The very idea of making a film around a person`s story looks more honest and attractive. The ones we loved. The ones we betrayed. The ones we even killed. Everything, but real.

Cinematic fairytales for kids or for adults are good as well – this is fantasy where any mythic characters, animated things and humanized creatures may appear, like Beauty and the Beast`s mysterious and lyric monster, or elves and dwarfs, or, if speak more up to date, James Bond. Anyway, each tale ends, happily even after or not quite, but it has its unchangeable sense and truth, food for thought to honest youth, that doesn`t require any sequels. Maybe just a remake to draw the new generation`s attention or to paint an old faded movie with new colors. Only James Bond is an exception, each film is a full-length and wholesale tale chained with the others by the supernaturally long lasting life of a movie hero.

Fantasy is in the league of its own. It went to become a genre employing components of many others in its own way, segmented to horrors, games of illusive thrones and imaginary empires, magic Harry-Potterish worlds etc. It is meant to last like a well-done franchise to attract fans of different generations and age. It is backed up by mighty studios and generous funding, best actors and filmmakers, and its own camp of audience truly involved and ready to pay for it. A kind of cinematic factory, aimed at fulfilling its business plan by all means to secure the market share.

With such a background Guillermo Del Toro`s The Shape Of Water is surely a special case. It never tends to grow into a franchise, spreading far from the initial root like a wild grape-vine. The film is a wall-to-wall tale with an idea in its core. This idea is the main component of The Shape Of Water. Not the visual effects, nor the style or score by Alexandre Desplat. The matter is that the earthly life is not homocentric. All elements can provide environment for life and rational beings, some of them might even outrank Homo Sapiens intellectually, or have superpowers, or be worshiped like God by human beings. These creatures do not need words for communication, have an ability to heal and recover skin and organs, and give a human being a new life in another element, like water.

Del Toro explained that he wanted to make his new movie more adult and not connected with his childhood fears and impressions. The director called his story “a fairytale for troubled times”, since the Cold War realities in The Shape Of Water do not focus the whole life on the Earth on human beings swept by their global games as if they were God`s incarnations regardless of sins. Del Toro`s tale offered another reality: his main character, the nameless amphibian Creature, is that very celestial incarnation came from water as the initial environment for all living things. That is the shape of water, covering everything and giving life to everyone.

Speaking about human beings in The Shape Of Water, their attitudes towards the Creature form a vivid palette of feelings and actions: from suspicious and precautious fear to cruel and curious scientific interest as to a previously unknown species, which is subject to vivisection. From a stone-age cult of this Creature among the Amazonian tribes to love. A strange, silent, unbelievable love between a woman and the Creature, brilliantly performed by Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones.

Let`s see how will the idea and its visual interpretation be responded at the forthcoming 90th Oscar: The Shape Of Water has received 13 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Directing, Leading Actress, Original Score and Cinematography.



together with kot_pofigist


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