The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water
The Shape of Water (film).png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGuillermo del Toro
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story byGuillermo del Toro
Music byAlexandre Desplat
CinematographyDan Laustsen
Edited bySidney Wolinsky
Distributed byFox Searchlight Pictures
Release date
  • August 31, 2017 (2017-08-31) (Venice)
  • December 1, 2017 (2017-12-01) (United States)
Running time
123 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
  • American Sign Language
  • English
Budget$20 million[2]
Box office$195.2 million[3]

The Shape of Water is a 2017 American romantic dark fantasy drama film directed by Guillermo del Toro and written by del Toro and Vanessa Taylor.[4] It stars Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Octavia Spencer. Set in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1962, the story follows a mute custodian at a high-security government laboratory who falls in love with a captured humanoid amphibian creature. Filming took place in Ontario, Canada, between August and November 2016.

The film was screened in the main competition section of the 74th Venice International Film Festival, where it premiered on August 31, 2017,[5] and was awarded the Golden Lion for best film.[6] It was also screened at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.[7] It began a limited release in two theaters in New York City on December 1, 2017, before expanding wide on December 23, 2017, and grossed $195 million worldwide.

The Shape of Water received critical acclaim for its acting, screenplay, direction, visuals, production design, and musical score, with many critics calling the film del Toro's best work since Pan's Labyrinth;[8] the American Film Institute selected it as one of the top 10 films of the year.[9] The Shape of Water received a number of awards and nominations, including thirteen nominations at the 90th Academy Awards, where it won for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Production Design, and Best Original Score.[10][11] It was nominated for seven awards at the 75th Golden Globe Awards, winning for Best Director and Best Original Score,[12], twelve at the 71st British Academy Film Awards, winning three awards, including Best Director[13] and fourteen nominations at the 23rd Critics' Choice Awards and won four awards. A novelization by del Toro and Daniel Kraus was published on March 6, 2018.[14]


Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) who was found abandoned as a child by the side of a river with wounds on her neck, is mute and communicates through sign language. She lives alone in an apartment above a cinema and works as a cleaner at a secret government laboratory in Baltimore, Maryland, at the height of the Cold War. Her only friends are her closeted next-door neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins) a middle-aged struggling advertising illustrator and Zelda (Octavia Spencer) a co-worker who serves as her interpreter.

The facility receives a mysterious creature captured from the Amazon River by Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) who is in charge of the project to study it. Believing it is just a wild beast, Strickland treats it brutally, repeatedly shocking it with his electric cattle prod. Curious about the creature, Elisa discovers it is a male humanoid amphibian (Doug Jones). She begins visiting him in secret and the two form a close bond as she teaches him sign language.

Seeking to exploit the Amphibian Man for an American advantage in the space race, General Frank Hoyt (Nick Searcy) is eventually persuaded by Strickland to vivisect it. One scientist, Robert Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg) - who is really a Soviet spy named Dimitri Mosenkov - pleads unsuccessfully to keep the Amphibian Man alive for further study and, at the same time, is ordered by his Soviet handlers to euthanize the creature. When Elisa overhears the American plans for the Amphibian Man, she persuades Giles to help her free him. Hoffstetler stumbles upon Elisa's plot in progress and chooses to help her. Though initially reluctant, Zelda also becomes involved in the successful escape.

Elisa keeps the Amphibian Man in her bathtub. She plans to release him into a nearby canal when it rains to give access to the ocean in several days' time. Strickland interrogates Elisa and Zelda, among others, but learns nothing. Back at the apartment, Giles discovers the Amphibian Man devouring one of his cats. Startled, the Amphibian Man slashes Giles's arm and rushes out of the apartment. He gets as far as the cinema downstairs, luckily empty of patrons, before Elisa finds him and returns him to her apartment. He touches Giles on his balding head and his wounded arm, and the next morning Giles discovers his hair has begun growing back and the wounds on his arm have healed. After initially walking away, Elisa has sex with the Amphibian Man in her shower. For a later encounter, she fills the bathroom completely with water, which eventually begins to cause water to drip into the theater below. The upset theater owner alerts Giles, who then enters the apartment and opens the bathroom door, interrupting the tryst.

Hoyt unexpectedly arrives and asks for the status of the case. When Strickland questions how much experimentation is enough, he is told he has 36 hours to recover the Amphibian Man or his career and life will be over. Meanwhile, Hoffstetler is told he will be extracted in two days. As the planned release date approaches, the Amphibian Man's health starts deteriorating. Hoffstetler goes to meet his handlers with Strickland tailing him. At the rendezvous, Hoffstetler is shot by a handler before Strickland kills him and then continuously tortures Hoffstetler for information (knowing he is a spy by virtue of having heard him speak Russian to his handler) while asking for the name and rank of who has the creature. Before dying, Hoffstetler implicates Elisa and Zelda. Strickland savagely threatens Zelda in her home until her husband Brewster (Martin Roach) reveals that Elisa has the Amphibian Man (having overheard her conversations). After Strickland's departure, Zelda immediately calls Elisa, warning her to get the creature out immediately. An enraged Strickland arrives and searches Elisa's empty apartment until he finds a calendar note revealing where she plans to release the Amphibian Man.

At the canal, Elisa and Giles are bidding farewell to the creature when Strickland arrives, knocks Giles down, and shoots the Amphibian Man and Elisa. The Amphibian Man quickly heals himself and slashes Strickland's throat, killing him. As police arrive on the scene with Zelda, the Amphibian Man takes Elisa and jumps into the canal, where he heals her. When he applies his healing touch to the scars on Elisa's neck, they open to reveal gills like his; she jolts back to life, and the two embrace. In a closing voice-over narration, Giles conveys his belief that Elisa lived "happily ever after in love" with the Amphibian Man.

Other Languages
العربية: شكل الماء
čeština: Tvář vody
فارسی: شکل آب
Bahasa Indonesia: The Shape of Water
עברית: צורת המים
latviešu: Ūdens forma
македонски: Обликот на водата
Bahasa Melayu: The Shape of Water
Nederlands: The Shape of Water
português: A Forma da Água
русский: Форма воды
Simple English: The Shape of Water
српски / srpski: Облик воде
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: The Shape of Water
Türkçe: Suyun Sesi
українська: Форма води
吴语: 水形物语
粵語: 忘形水
中文: 水底情深