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The Shape of Water (2017)

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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.


Guillermo del Toro


Guillermo del Toro (screenplay by), Vanessa Taylor (screenplay by) | 1 more credit »
84 ( 22)
Won 4 Oscars. Another 106 wins & 306 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sally Hawkins ... Elisa Esposito
Michael Shannon ... Richard Strickland
Richard Jenkins ... Giles
Octavia Spencer ... Zelda Fuller
Michael Stuhlbarg ... Dr. Robert Hoffstetler
Doug Jones ... Amphibian Man
David Hewlett ... Fleming
Nick Searcy ... General Hoyt
Stewart Arnott ... Bernard
Nigel Bennett ... Mihalkov
Lauren Lee Smith ... Elaine Strickland
Martin Roach ... Brewster Fuller
Allegra Fulton ... Yolanda
John Kapelos ... Mr. Arzoumanian
Morgan Kelly ... Pie Guy


From master storyteller Guillermo del Toro comes THE SHAPE OF WATER, an otherworldly fable set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1962. In the hidden high-security government laboratory where she works, lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in a life of isolation. Elisa's life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment. Rounding out the cast are Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Doug Jones. Written by Fox Searchlight Pictures

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Based on an idea by Daniel Kraus And Guillermo del Toro See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexual content, graphic nudity, violence and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »




Release Date:

22 December 2017 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Shape of Water See more »

Filming Locations:

Toronto, Ontario, Canada See more »


Box Office


$19,400,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$166,564, 1 December 2017, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$63,859,435, 3 May 2018

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$194,349,972, 29 April 2018
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

D-Cinema 48kHz 5.1


Color | Black and White (dream sequence)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Sally Hawkins and Richard Jenkins both appeared in separate Monsterverse movies. Sally Hawkins played Dr. Vivienne Graham in Godzilla and Godzilla King of the Monsters and Richard Jenkins played Senator Al Willis in Kong Skull Island. See more »


Early in the film, we see television sets on sale in a shop. The images on the screens are of a helicopter and a B-52 bomber. If they represent footage from the Vietnam War, this would be anachronistic because B-52's were not used in Vietnam until 1965. See more »


[first lines]
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, but far from everything else. Or, I don't know... Would I tell you about her? The princess without voice. Or perhaps I would just warn you, about the truth of these facts. And the tale of love and loss. And the monster, who tried to ...
See more »


Referenced in After Trek: The War Without, the War Within (2018) See more »


I Went to Market
Written by Bill Robinson
Performed by Bill Robinson (as Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson)
From the motion picture The Little Colonel (1935)
Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
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User Reviews

A monstrously powerful fable about love and loss where plot simplicity, narrative depth and artistic beauty are unified and glorified
15 April 2018 | by pipecaxSee all my reviews

Without false decorations, there is no doubt that "The Shape of Water" is an eye-catching drop-dead gorgeous masterpiece, Del Toro's last Magnum opus is a eerie and charming homage to ordinary-people-do-extraordinary-things stories and, without hyperbolizing my extreme love for this filmmaker- although that's just the truth -his film is one of the most clever, stirring and visually handsome experiences, a deeply moving and impressive modern-cinema classic, an artistically perfect, beautifully acted, directed and scripted impossible-love movie that I have seen in my whole life.

For the most stringent movie-buffs, like me, the first thing coming to light when the screening is over is that the script has many plot holes, namely, neither it provides minimal explanation about how or why was the creature created, nor uses scientific technicalities or the peripheral problems of the main role, the supporting characters or the time in which it's developed; the film simply doesn't walk around and to enjoy it is necessary to understand it in the way its director wants: As a story about monsters in which love and loss, as a whole, play the greatest roles.

This film allows executing extraordinary tours de force for two members of the cast. Year after year, the great Michael Shannon surprises more and more. His Richard Strickland is voracious, egomaniac, magnetic and terrifying; this performance is made by real quality, portraying a man oppressed by machismo, greed and power, possibly a reflex that reconciles in a good way with the mess of sexual and labor harassment that has begun to be strengthened in recent months, an epitome of all those monsters with ties and contacts that simply require and cancel. On the other side of the coin, the second monumental performance lies, of course, on the shoulders of Sally Hawkins, getting that a mute lady gains a powerful label, not a new icon of female overcoming or anything by style, a sign of love, faith, and freedom.

Del Toro keeps doing his job excellently, selecting a top-notch artistic team. Flick after flick, story after story are strongly driven by an overwhelming visual tidiness, leaving out genre or purpose, it's a tradition that each of its motion pictures means sublimity in creative fields. His newest work could be placed on the top of the podium. "The Shape of Water" is what it's thanks to the hard work put on it, a feat that must be recognized and praised. Dark colors and lack of brightness are trademarks, each scene uses the global tonality in order to encompass throughout the film the feeling that the filmmaker wants the spectator to get. While in the opening sequence prevails a gloomy green color in the water, in the later set-pieces you can appreciate green olives, pale whites, yellowish and greenish blues that give shape to the idea. In addition, such colors are also applied to costumes, makeup, staging and visual tricks, supported by an ideal and particularly opaque illumination that denotes a quietly beautiful time. Pictures are flawless. Its cinematography embellishes key scenes and the ingenious approaches switching from one scene to another use old-school techniques that Del Toro frequents, and here get a new level of complexity and intensity, simply outstanding. Alexandre Desplat is also an important piece in the puzzle, he plays again a role of issuer of emotions by means of sound, through a work that surely will give him besides an enormous recognizing, satisfaction and pride for becoming one of the most requested Hollywood composers.

Guillermo Del Toro's "The Shape of Water" is a devastating experience, not due to its subtle horror moments, its entertaining material or its mischievous comic sense, but simplicity and delicacy with which this filmmaker treats his invention, a work brimming with gold qualities that are not created by film-romantic traditionalism, the core purpose is a message about loss and happiness, because this, in many cases, means love, and that's precisely the meaning of the movie title. In its entirety, water may never be contained, water is amorphous, love is amorphous, therefore, its conceptions are entirely immeasurable. It's one of the best years for Mexico in the American industry thanks to "Coco" and "The Shape of Water", it's also time to remunerate all the contributions for cinema made by this peculiar filmmaker. While some people give him millions of dollars and little gold men, we, the dreamers and most loyal followers, give our deepest respect, admiration and gratitude, becoming, at least personally, a true role model.

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