{Vemödalen} The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water (2017)

director: Guillermo del Toro

writers: Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor

cast: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Doug Jones

Oh my lord. This movie. This post for it definitely deserves the post I did earlier for it that got deleted when I was logged out in the middle of writing it. It was a good post about how much this movie hit me. I cried while I was writing it. I don't think I have it in me to try to bring all that back for a second go, but I'll try my best because, this movie. It just makes me smile and cry at the same time.

It found that part of me that I've kept hidden from everyone since I was a kid, even after the brain injury. That part comes out every so ofter now, my filters aren't what they were before the TBI, but for the most part I still keep that part of me to myself. I don't know if it's normal for people to grow up with their personality compartmentalized. I suspect if, like me, one was told enough as a kid that they were "too much" of whatever (emotional, dramatic, loud, sensitive, whatever), that they probably would have. When you relate to the monsters early in life, when you feel most comfortable with them, when you're told you're The Other early on and often enough, you sometimes do what you can to make it through the day with the people who make you feel broken or off or wrong.

That part of me felt whole and full and loved by the end of this movie.

Even before I was reading the X-Men, I was super into relating to the "monsters". I was in love (still am) with Ray Harryhausen's Shiva and fighting skeletons. When I saw the endoskeleton rise up out of the flames in The Terminator when I was 8 or so, it both scared the shit out of me and fascinated me. I wanted to make the monsters come to life. I wanted to be the person in the monster suit. I would play sick in elementary school so I could stay at my grandparents' house and watch a "making of" VHS of Michael Jackson's Thriller video. I still have this book about monsters in movies from the beginning of movies until the 60s-70s that I stole from my mom's brother when I was 7 or so. It's the perfect shade of blood red and all the corners are frayed from me lugging it around everywhere (the same thing happened to my first issue of The X-Men). 

That urge to go with The Other in ever instance, real life or fictional life, has stuck with me to this day. I will always romance Garrus in Mass Effect because of that character in the first game who hates aliens. Also, he's just a great character and I have a thing for snipers. My childhood was lonely and I was a weird, lonely kid.


All of that is to say that, Guillermo del Toro seems to make movies that are tailor made for me. Every single one of them (except maybe Mimic) has found a home with kid me who was tickled to death about people done up in zombie makeup eating Lays potato chips during a lunch break from filming a dance number in zombie makeup. He seems to love The Other or identify with The Other as much as I do, and this movie feels like a direct love letter to that feeling.

Obviously, there's so much more going on in this film than a human falling in love with a river god. It very directly takes that part of the film to show how much or how little compassion, empathy, and love humans have for other humans. Or themselves. It's so easy to get wrapped up in ideology and have it erode compassion, empathy, and love until there's nothing left but the ideology and the need to have everyone/thing around you conform to the same path. It's difficult to love a being different from you for the simple fact that it's a living, breathing being. It's difficult to acknowledge that an animal could feel and think and have emotions like you because of the taste of bacon. It's difficult to feel bad about killing a certain group of people because they look different than you, talk different than you, don't do things the way you would.

This movie has all that covered, and it has a musical dance number with a guy in river god makeup.

Speaking of Doug Jones in the river god makeup, the design of his character reminded me so much of the Creature from the Black Lagoon. I feel that if he hadn't I wouldn't have fallen in love with this movie as much as I have. The Creature from the Black Lagoon has always been my favourite of the Universal Monsters for one simple reason: my grandpa used to pretend to be the Creature and would chase me around in and out of their swimming pool while I would laugh with delight. When I was going the EMDR therapy and had to create a "happy place", my happy place was my grandparents' swimming pool with the Creature swimming in it.

I feel like Guillermo del Toro and I would be friends if we ever met. I dig what this dude is putting in his art.