Exploring Otherness in Cinema

“The Shape of Water”, a 2017 Guillermo del Toro film, is a masterpiece. It explores the universal theme of discrimination towards those who are different. This cinematic masterpiece, set in the Cold War period, explores prejudices – whether racial or gender-based – and stigmas faced by those deemed as “others” in society through characters. “The Shape of Water” provides insight into both prejudice and its consequences, as well as the power of empathy in creating acceptance among individuals who are initially perceived differently.

Sally Hawkins portrays Elisa Esposito a mute cleaning lady in a high-security government laboratory. Elisa’s physical differences immediately mark her as different in the eyes of society. Her daily routine reflects her loneliness and the way society ignores those who do not conform to normal expectations.

Doug Jones’ Amphibian Man is the perfect example of discrimination. He was captured in the Amazon and then subjected in a lab to various experiments. Its inability to speak to humans and its stark physical differences serve as a powerful commentary on the treatment of people who are different from society.

Zelda (Octavia Spencer) is Elisa’s friend and co-worker at work. She encounters racism and discrimination in her workplace. This film addresses intersectionality, or when multiple forms are discriminated against simultaneously.

Michael Shannon portrays Michael Strickland, as the film’s antagonist. Colonel Richard Strickland represents racism and toxic masculinity. His character views Amphibian Man only as an asset that can be exploited for military service. He resorts to violence and cruelty in order to maintain his authority and power. Strickland is a reminder of how discrimination can be fueled by fear, ignorance, and power lust.

The portrayal of love and compassion as transformative powers is one of the most striking aspects of “The Shape of Water”. Elisa and Amphibian Man’s relationship transcends physical and linguistic differences. It blossoms through kindness and understanding, which show how it is important to see humanity within all people.

Elisa’s efforts to rescue the Amphibian Man and prevent him from being captured by the military symbolizes the possibility of change and the rejection of discrimination. The film shows how love and acceptance can break down prejudices and create an inclusive society.

Through its characters and story, “The Shape of Water” depicts discrimination towards those who are different. The film vividly portrays dehumanization based on physical or racial differences, while also celebrating love and compassion as transformative forces. This film is a timely reminder that we should embrace diversity and challenge discrimination in all its forms.

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