Guillermo del Toro's highly personal monster film 'The Shape of Water' speaks to 'what I feel as an immigrant'
Director Guillermo del Toro speaks about his latest movie, "The Shape of Water," one of the breakout films of the Telluride Film Festival.
Obviously the world has changed dramatically since you were shooting this film. I can’t imagine you could anticipate the way those themes would resonate …
I did. And the reason why is that I’m Mexican. I’ve been going through immigration all my life, and I’ve been stopped for traffic violations by cops and they get much more curious about me than the regular guy. The moment they hear my accent, things get a little deeper.
I know it sounds kind of glib, but honestly, what we are living I saw brewing through the Obama era and the Clinton era. It was there. The fact that we got diagnosed with a tumor doesn’t mean the cancer started now.
Hopefully one of the things the movie shows is that from 1962 to now, we’ve taken baby steps — and a lot of them not everyone takes. The thing that is inherent in social control is fear. The way they control a population is by pointing at somebody else — whether they’re gay, Mexican, Jewish, black — and saying, “They are different than you. They’re the reason you’re in the shape you’re in. You’re not responsible.” And when they exonerate you through vilifying and demonizing someone else, they control you.
I think the movie says that there are so many more reasons to love than to hate. I know you sound a lot smarter when you’re skeptical and a cynic, but I don’t care.
But you’re not on a mission to change the way people see genre?
No, I can’t. I know that what I saw when I was a kid had redemptive powers. Some people find Jesus. I found Frankenstein. And the reason I’m alive and articulate and semi-sane is monsters. It’s not an affectation. It’s completely spiritually real to me. And I’m not going to change.