words and art by w a l t e r w s m i t h

linear data | the shape of water | make america great again | the rise of the minority and the rainbow coalition

the shape of water final 300 dpi text.jpg

The Shape of Water won numerous awards at the 2018 Academy Awards. Most notably for Best Picture and Best Director. As with his earlier film Pan’s Labyrinth, Director Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water continues the exploration of individual disenfranchisement and national conflict.

The Shape of Water was set in Baltimore, MD in the 1950’s. A period of time that our current President, Donald J. Trump presumably feels we need to return to—in order to “Make America Great Again”. I believe undoubtedly that the thought of his idea and many others like him in making America great again refers to the dominance of white nationalism, white privilege, and white supremacy in our national identity.

The Shape of Water intelligently turns the concept of the “monster” as “villain” into the embodiment of beauty found in the “other”. In a sharp contrast, there was the pundits—the alt-right propagandists/commentators on FOX News. Their description and analysis of the film was one of simply referencing “a woman having sex with a fish”. Debasing the motives of the film by decimating it and declaring it as a freak show. They also tried to politicize it by focusing their attacks on so-called “Hollywood Elites” and Liberals alike. Promoting the idea that the low viewership of the awards were due to the “American people” (I never feel they are talking about me or the vast majority of the America population when this phase is uttered on the political right)—being tired of politics in their entertainment. In reality, the film spoke truth to the oppressed, and marginalized: That they had a voice, even when unable to literally speak; that they weren’t second class citizens, a minority; and were free to be who they were in sexual orientation. In this regard the film was about freedom, the love that encapsulates freedom and the struggle we must undertake to possess that freedom.

In conclusion, I thought the film was masterly done and beautifully crafted. The lovely shades of green that permeated throughout the film. And the various ways in which water was manipulated was imaginative and powerful. True art.

In my interpretation of the film’s central visual construct (that being the ending sequence with the Amphibian Man and Eliza Esposito floating together in all-consuming rapture beneath the surface of the water), I wanted to create a rainbow coalition of linear and cubistic form to mirror this moment.

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One response

  1. Well said, Walter. I haven’t seen the film yet, but you so correctly identify the #MAGA catch phrase as the desire to return to our (White American Boomers) blinkered childhoods. It’s infantile thinking.

    March 28, 2018 at 3:25 pm

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