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The Shape of Water (2017)

1:49 | Trailer
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 »
693 ( 76)
Won 4 Oscars. Another 134 wins & 350 nominations. See more awards »





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


A Fairy Tale for Troubled Times See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Most of the characters were written with the actors in mind. Octavia Spencer said her character was reminiscent of a collaboration between her roles in The Help (2011) and Hidden Figures (2016), and that she "would have played the desk if Guillermo del Toro had asked me to." See more »


When Elisa lowers herself into the bath the first time, the water spills over the edge. In the next shot she is still lowering herself, yet the water level is now below the edge of the tub. 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 ...
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Crazy Credits

The opening credits roll over footage of a flooded apartment. See more »


Referenced in The Ben Shapiro Show: Does the Super Bowl Matter? (2018) See more »


Comedy Bridge #68
Written by Raoul Kraushaar, Marlin Skiles
From the TV Series Mister Ed (1958)
Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Music Inc.
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User Reviews

Unsettlement at its most beautiful
15 February 2018 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

So much appealed to me about 'The Shape of Water'. The trailer and story captivated me, Guillermo Del Toro has done some great work prior (especially one of my favourite films 'Pan's Labyrinth'), the critical acclaim and numerous wins and nominations (including a whopping thirteen Oscar nominations as we speak) promised so much as did the talented cast and having Alexandre Desplat on board.

Luckily, 'The Shape of Water' didn't disappoint me at all. For me, it's one of Del Toro's best and his best since 'Pan's Labyrinth'. It's a beautifully transfixing adult fairy tale with elements of 'Beauty and the Beast', 'Amelie' and 'Creature from the Black Lagoon', while showing a real sense of unsettlement and affectionate nostalgia from film and music from the golden age.

Everything here absorbs, right from the visually gorgeous, musically hauntingly beautiful and really quite wondrous opening to the genuinely unnervingly tense and powerful, in emotion and violent action, climax. The love story is very touching and has a lot of heart, the conflict provided by the as ice cold monster a villain as one can get brings chills up the spine, Elisa and Zelda's friendship has warmth and that between Elisa and Giles has charm and poignancy.

'The Shape of Water' is one of the best-looking films of the year bar none. There is a real fairy-tale, in both sheer other-worldly beauty and sometimes unsettlingly nightmarish, look to the cinematography. The production and costume design are meticulously detailed, evocative (one really is taken back to the Cold War's look and atmosphere) and atmospheric, while the creature design clearly looked like a lot of care and effort went into it and the editing has a natural and cohesive flow.

Alexandre Desplat's music score is ethereal and hauntingly beautiful, especially so in the opening scene, one of the best scored opening scenes of the year. The vivid sound mixing and editing helps it a lot, and the pre-existing music also makes a positive impression with the rendition of "You Never Know" touching the soul and haunting the mind. 'The Shape of Water' is one of the best examples of Del Toro's mastery of story-telling when the material is particularly good, like it is here and in 'Pan's Labyrinth', with all the different elements ideally balanced and just as strong individually.

Regarding the script, it's tightly structured, poetic, poignant, nostalgic, thought-provoking and with nothing inconsequential. What is done with the monster is a revelation, not just because the design is so rich in detail, expressive and real but Doug Jones masterfully brings nuances, chills and heartfelt emotion and makes the monster much more than a creature design that looks good but with no soul.

Can't fault the acting either. Sally Hawkins is one of the finest recent examples of conveying so many different emotions and nuances without saying a word, my personal favourite as of now of the nominees for this year's Best Actress Oscar category (yes even more so than Frances McDormand for 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri').

Octavia Spencer is humorously earthy and sympathetic and warmth and sincerity shines through every aspect of Richard Jenkins' performance. Michael Shannon has rarely been creepier than he is here and Michael Stuhlbarg is also fine.

In summary, unsettling and truly beautiful, one of the year's must sees. 10/10 Bethany Cox

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Official Sites:

Fox Searchlight | Official Facebook | See more »


USA | Canada

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, 3 December 2017

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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 »

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