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Guillermo del Toro on ‘The Shape of Water’ as an Elegy to Lost Love: ‘I Wanted to Make a Love Song’

In a recent SpectreVision podcast, del Toro opened up about how his Best Picture-winning film was meant as "a love song...that you listen to in the car with the top down on the PCH."

Guillermo Del ToroLACMA: Art and Film Gala presented by Gucci, Los Angeles, USA - 03 Nov 2018

Guillermo del Toro

John Salangsang/BFA/REX/Shutterstock

Mere days after taking home both Best Picture and Best Director Academy Awards for his monster-movie romance “The Shape of Water” in 2018, Mexican auteur Guillermo del Toro announced that he had recently divorced his wife of three decades. As revealed in a new interview with Elijah Wood and Daniel Noah on their indie genre production company SpectreVision’s podcast “Visitations,” the film was, for del Toro, an elegy to lost love and the “transformation” that occurs during marriage, and its fallout.

“I wanted to make a song, a love song,” del Toro said of “The Shape of Water,” which he wrote and directed. “I wanted it to feel like a song that you listen to in the car with the top down on the PCH on the way to the beach, a really beautiful melody. I wanted to say what I think love is, which is very very simple, which is to see the other in its completeness, to really see you for who you are, because if you marry someone that necessarily has flaws…that’s impossible to remedy; you cannot ever remedy that.”

Del Toro continued, “But if you find someone who looks at you and you look at them exactly as they are, and you love them, and you’re not trying to hide or mitigate their personality, then that’s beautiful. When we talk about transformation, people change each other. When you marry someone, that person changes you and you change that person. Inevitably there is love, that will happen, but that’s different than demanding transformation.”

Del Toro went on to say why, with regard to transformation, “the ending of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is disappointing, because the Beast should stay the beast, because that’s how they fell in love. To me, the idea of normalcy is so scary… breaking the norm should be as acceptable as the norm. The plurality of human existence is you can go back and forth, make a mistake, change your mind, and you cannot exist in a black and white way.”

Del Toro is currently at work with a dream cast on “Nightmare Alley,” a noir adaptation of William Lindsay Gresham’s 1946 novel of the same name, including Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, and Bradley Cooper.

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