The History Of The Shape Of Water, From The Earliest Rumours To Its Academy Award Win

The History Of The Shape Of Water, From The Earliest Rumours To Its Academy Award Win

Earlier this week, Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water became the first science fiction film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. And whether you believe the film deserved the award or not, it was a landmark moment for genre films. To celebrate the victory, we’ve gone back through our archives to see where The Shape of Water began, where it went, and so much more.

What’s that? It’s the beating heart of The Shape of Water. Photo: Fox Searchlight

In the six months since the release of Crimson Peak and this first story, published in March 2016, del Toro’s next project was a mystery. Would it be Hellboy 3? Would it be Pacific Rim 2? Would it be something else? The first details about the film make it very clear it was something else. It was described as “a mysterious and magical journey set against the backdrop of Cold War-era America circa 1963 with an otherworldly love story at the centre of it”.

[referenced url=”” thumb=”” title=”Guillermo Del Toro’s Next Movie Is Going In A Startling New Direction” excerpt=”Guillermo del Toro’s name is attached to so many movies, sometimes it feels like we’ll never see any of them. While we wait for those, though, del Toro is actually making a new film. It’s smaller, it’s shooting in August and the first details – including a rough plot description – have been revealed.”]

In May of 2016, the title The Shape of Water first popped up on our site, tied to the casting of Michael Shannon in the film.

[referenced url=”” thumb=”” title=”What Are The Chances Of Deadpool Appearing In The X-Men Movies?” excerpt=”James Gunn drops a Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 teaser. Jared Leto offers more insight into his unique preparation for the role of the Joker. Krypton gets its pilot order. Plus, new clips from Alice Through the Looking Glass and Agents of SHIELD, and Earth Space Defence wants you in a new Independence Day promotional video. Spoilers!”]

A few months later, in August 2016, del Toro announced that he was going into production on the movie.

[referenced url=”” thumb=”” title=”Gotham Has Plans To Bring One Of Its Weirdest Characters Back From The Dead” excerpt=”James Wan discusses how Aquaman will talk to sea life in the movie. Melissa Rosenberg teases more threats in the second season of Jessica Jones. A new Walking Dead clip teases bad times ahead for Daryl. Plus, new footage from Morgan, and unsurprising news from Star Wars: Episode VIII. Behold, spoilers!”]

In January 2017, the first real details about the film were released. In an interview, star Doug Jones explained the setting and how his creature would fit into the movie. Read that below.

[referenced url=”” thumb=”” title=”New Details About Guillermo Del Toro’s New Film Are As Unusual As You’d Expect” excerpt=”Guillermo del Toro has long made a name for himself for doing things that are weird and daring. Creatures, alternate worlds, ghosts, ghouls, giant robots – there’s always something strange happening in his films, and it sounds like his latest, The Shape of Water, will continue that trend.”]

Seven long months passed since Jones’ interview, as del Toro likely worked on and finished the film. Then, finally, in July 2017, our first look at The Shape of Water finally arrived.

[referenced url=”” thumb=”” title=”Something Fishy Is Going On In The First Trailer For Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape Of Water” excerpt=”Video: The first trailer has arrived for Guillermo del Toro’s latest adult fairy tale, The Shape of Water, promising a gorgeous and intense spectacle about a mute woman’s unlikely friendship (and possible romance) with an imprisoned fish-man. Dive in.”]

The first inkling that del Toro had something special on his hands came in late August of 2017. The Shape of Water had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival and the reviews were stellar.

[referenced url=”” thumb=”” title=”The First Reviews For Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape Of Water Are Outstanding” excerpt=”Guillermo del Toro hasn’t made an undisputed great movie in over a decade – specifically 2006’s Pan’s Labyrinth, a truly breathtaking work that set the bar for the director’s work very high. Since then, he’s made many films with varying degrees of success but nothing that’s come close to Pan. However, according to the early reviews, it sounds like his new film The Shape of Water might live up to del Toro’s potential.”]

Now that people had seen the movie, details about just how weird it was started to leak out. And, well, this one kind of says it all.

[referenced url=”” thumb=”” title=”Yes, The Fish Monster In Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape Of Water Is Going To Have Sex With A Human” excerpt=”Have you ever actually considered how the mechanics of having sex with a fish-person (mermaid or otherwise) might actually work? Guillermo del Toro certainly has, and we’re all going to get a chance to see how he conceptualises it in his upcoming adult fairy tale The Shape of Water.”]

The marketing continued on its way to release, including this second trailer.

[referenced url=”” thumb=”” title=”The Shape Of Water’s Latest Trailer Offers Our Best Look At Guillermo Del Toro’s Newest Monster” excerpt=”Video: Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is a dark fairy tale about the forbidden romance between an amphibious, humanoid cryptid and Elisa, a mute woman who works for the government agency that’s secretly keeping him prisoner. Strange as their romance might seem at first, there’s an element of mystery to the creature that sort of makes you understand Elisa’s fascination.”]

The Shape of Water looks much more expensive than it actually was. Reportedly, it cost around $US20 million ($26 million) and, in a Q&A, del Toro explained how he stretched that budget to its limits.

[referenced url=”” thumb=”” title=”How The Strain Made Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape Of Water Possible” excerpt=”When Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water opens in January, audiences are going to be wowed by it. It’s a lush, amazing-looking film, and according to del Toro, its budget was a fraction of what you might think – partially because of another show he produces.”]

Finally, on 1 December 2017 in the US and 17 January 2018 in Australia, The Shape of Water was released. Here’s our review.

[referenced url=”” thumb=”” title=”Guillermo Del Toro’s ‘The Shape Of Water’ Is A Beautiful Love Story Where The Story Doesn’t Matter” excerpt=”In Guillermo del Toro’s latest film The Shape of Water, a mute cleaning lady falls in love with a mysterious fishman. It’s a weird premise, to be sure, but nothing about how it’s handled feels weird. Instead, del Toro’s film is poetic, sumptuous, emotionally complex, and yet almost strikingly simple in its narrative.”]

Since we loved the movie, we decided to dig a bit more into it. For example, the movie was written in tandem with a book that’s very different from the movie. So, below, read the real origin of the film, from an author named Daniel Kraus, as well as an excerpt from his book.

[referenced url=”” thumb=”” title=”The Shape Of Water Novel Does Much, Much More Than Adapt The Movie” excerpt=”Most movie novelizations do little more than write down what audiences see on the screen. But the novel that’s accompanying Guillermo del Toro’s new movie The Shape of Water is no mere adaptation. Co-author Daniel Kraus’ book and the film tell the same story, of a mute woman who falls in love with an imprisoned and equally mute creature, in two very different ways – and we have an exclusive excerpt to show how.”]

Weird stories about the set started to come out.

[referenced url=”” thumb=”” title=”Somebody Threw Up And Passed Out While Making The Shape Of Water’s Most Romantic Scene” excerpt=”Guillermo del Toro’s latest film is a modern-day masterpiece about the unlikely love story between a mute human woman and a one-of-a-kind amphibian creature. The Shape of Water is lovely to look at but, for one hapless performer, making it sounds like it was hell.”]

At the press junket for the film, we spoke to del Toro himself about the film’s mythology and creature, and he was happy to tell us about it.

[referenced url=”” thumb=”” title=”If You Wanted To Know Where The Shape Of Water’s Fishman Came From, I Have Bad News” excerpt=”In almost every single film Guillermo del Toro’s made, the director creates vivid, imaginative, unforgettable creatures. He also famously writes long, elaborate backstories for all of his characters, whether they ends up on screen or not. So, in The Shape of Water, you’d assume del Toro crafted the ultimate backstory for arguably his most important creature ever.”]

With its great reviews, The Shape of Water became an awards contender. So we made sure our coverage appropriately reflected the film’s prestige.

[referenced url=”” thumb=”” title=”Guillermo Del Toro Spent Years Making Sure The Shape Of Water’s Fish Monster Had A Sexy Butt” excerpt=”Because The Shape of Water was always meant to be a romantic fairy tale for adults, director Guillermo del Toro knew that if he was going to sell audiences on the idea of an inter-species love affair, he would need to try (in earnest) to make the fish man at least somewhat conventionally attractive. Rather than focusing on the creature’s face, hands, or mouth, del Toro made the excellent decision to simply give the fish man a nice arse.”]

Winning awards from various critics groups, The Shape of Water started to pick up some momentum. It culminated with a victory for Best Director at the Golden Globes. It didn’t win Best Picture there, but it was obvious that the movie had its fans.

[referenced url=”” thumb=”” title=”Guillermo Del Toro Says His ‘Strange Little Tales’ Saved Him In His Emotional Golden Globe Speech” excerpt=”Video: Oprah Winfrey may be the one getting most of the Golden Globe Awards headlines, but the speech that immediately followed hers was one for the books too. Yesterday Guillermo del Toro was awarded Best Director for The Shape of Water and, fighting back tears, he talked about how monsters, especially his own creations, saved his life.”]

And yet, it was a little surprising that when Oscar nominations came out on January 24, The Shape of Water had more than any other film – 13 total, cementing it as a favourite.

[referenced url=”” thumb=”” title=”Sexy Fish Monsters, Replicants, And Mutants Among Those Nominated For The 2018 Oscars” excerpt=”If we told you last year that a movie about a mute woman having a torrid, romantic relationship with a modernised version of the Creature From the Black Lagoon was going to dominate at the Oscars in terms of nominations, you might have chuckled a little to yourself. 2017 was a simpler time. The 2018 Academy Award nominations are in and there’s a lot for genre fans to be happy about.”]

After its Oscar noms, The Shape of Water‘s profile was higher than ever, and with that came accusations of plagiarism. Del Toro has denied them but people began to wonder if that would hurt its Oscar chances.

[referenced url=”” thumb=”” title=”The Shape Of Water Has Been Accused Of Plagiarism Again” excerpt=”Guillermo del Toro’s latest film, The Shape of Water, recently garnered 13 Oscar nominations, the most of any film this year. But now it’s also been accused of plagiarism.”]

The most important mystery of the movie is solved.

[referenced url=”” thumb=”” title=”A Dildo Maker Has Finally Determined What The Shape Of Water’s Fish Dick Looks Like” excerpt=”The Shape of Water is the story of a star-crossed affair between a mute woman and a fish man god-creature, a film that all but dares us to imagine the convoluted mechanism by which the latter’s genitalia becomes external and, uh, able to do sex stuff with a human. It’s also nominated for Best Picture now. Go figure!”]

The second most important mystery of the movie is solved.

[referenced url=”” thumb=”” title=”Doug Jones Had To Poo Before Getting Into His Fishman Costume For The Shape Of Water” excerpt=”Though Doug Jones doesn’t have any speaking lines in The Shape of Water, the movie wouldn’t have been possible without the actor’s uncanny ability to seamlessly embody and bring to life the humanoid fish creature at the heart of the film’s romance. But the process of becoming the character meant a few concessions. He couldn’t poo while in costume, folks.”]

Then, yesterday: After winning Oscars earlier in the ceremony for Best Original Score and Best Production Design, The Shape of Water was poised to have a big Oscar night. And it did. First up…

[referenced url=”” thumb=”” title=”Guillermo Del Toro Wins Best Director For The Shape Of Water” excerpt=”Guillermo del Toro just won the Oscar for Best Director at the 2018 Academy Awards.”]

And that’s when it became the best movie of 2017.

[referenced url=”” thumb=”” title=”The Shape Of Water Just Won The Oscar For Best Picture” excerpt=”Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy love story The Shape of Water just won the Oscar for Best Picture of 2017. The award ended a great day for the film, which also took home Best Director, Best Original Score and Best Production Design.”]

This is not at all what we expected when del Toro first announced the film, or even when we saw it for ourselves. The relationship between Sally Hawkins’ Eliza and Doug Jones’ amphibian man may have been an unlikely romance, but the Academy’s celebration of this otherworldly love story was even more so. Still, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer fish-creature.

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