A princess without voice. A love beyond words. And the monster that tried to destroy it all.
The Shape of Water Teaser Poster
The Shape of Water
Film Information
Release Date(s)

December 8, 2017

Running Time

123 minutes


American Sign Language

The Shape of Water is a romantic fantasy drama film which was released worldwide on December 8, 2017. Set in Baltimore in 1962, the film follows a mute custodian at a hidden high security government laboratory who falls in love with a captured humanoid amphibian creature.


The Shape of Water Title

The Shape of Water title shown at the beginning of the film

Elisa Esposito is a mousy, curious woman rendered mute by an injury she sustained as an infant. She works the night shift as a custodian at the Occam Aerospace Research Center in early 1960s Baltimore. One day, the facility receives a new "asset" discovered by the cruel and abusive Colonel Richard Strickland in the rivers of South America. After Elisa has a brief encounter with the Asset, which she discovers is an amphibian humanoid creature, she begins sneaking into the enclosure. Elisa spends time with the Amphibian Man, feeding him hard-boiled eggs and sharing music through records played on a portable turntable. Over time, the two become close.

Strickland's superior, General Frank Hoyt, is interested in the Amphibian Man's biology and wants his body harvested to study for the advancement of space travel technology. One of the center's scientists, Robert Hoffstetler, who is actually a Soviet spy named Dimitri Mosenkov, pleads with Hoyt and Strickland to not kill the creature for the sake of further study. Robert is ignored, but Elisa eavesdropped the entire conversation. Unable to delay the Amphibian Man's procedure, Robert's superiors instruct him to euthanize the creature, preferring to disrupt American technological progress than enhancing their own.

Desperate and afraid, Elisa convinces her next-door neighbor, closeted commercial artist Giles to help break the Amphibian Man out on the day of his procedure. Meanwhile, as Robert is planning to execute his own plans, he discovers Elisa's plot to escape with the Amphibian Man, and resolves to help her. After Elisa runs into her talkative friend and co-worker Zelda, she is forced to reveal the Amphibian Man's existence to Zelda before escaping with help from Robert.

Elisa keeps the creature in her apartment bathtub, keeping him healthy and alive using chemicals provided by Robert. The next night, Strickland investigates both Elisa and Zelda, but quickly drops his suspicions due to their lowly titles. As Giles keeps watch over the Amphibian Man, he dozes off. The Amphibian Man then kills and eats one of Giles' cats and, alarmed at being discovered, runs off, cutting Giles' arm with his claws in the process. After Elisa calms the Amphibian Man and brings him back, she and Giles both discover he can become luminescent when touched. The next morning, the once-balding Giles discovers his hair growing back and the cut on his arm completely healed. Elisa and the Amphibian Man fall in love and have sex for the first time.

Knowing the Amphibian Man needs to escape, Elisa plans to release him in a matter of days at a nearby canal: there will be few witnesses and he can swim over the wall when rainwater floods the canal. Meanwhile, Hoyt threatens Strickland's livelihood if he does not recover the missing Asset within thirty-six hours. At the same time, Robert's superiors become suspicious that he did not kill the Amphibian Man as promised and hid him instead. Ominously, they spare Robert's life, telling him that he will be "extracted" in two days time.

The date of the Amphibian Man's release comes. No longer able to provide the chemicals the Amphibian Man needs to survive, Elisa and Giles both see his health deteriorating, forcing them to act. Strickland decides to follow Robert to a rendezvous point with his two superiors. Before they can kill Robert, Strickland kills them first. His Soviet loyalties betrayed, Robert is tortured by Strickland into giving information about who captured the Amphibian Man. After Robert alludes to Elisa and Zelda, Strickland leaves him to succumb to his wounds. Strickland then comes into Zelda's house, threatening her for more information, forcing her husband to reveal Elisa's culpability. Arriving at Elisa's apartment, Strickland finds a note on her calendar revealing her location.

As Elisa and Giles say their farewells to the Amphibian Man, Strickland arrives, punching Giles and shooting the Amphibian Man and Elisa. Giles manages to get the upper hand on Strickland while the Amphibian Man instantly heals his own gunshot wounds before slicing Strickland's throat with his claws, killing him. As Zelda and the police arrive at the scene, the Amphibian Man takes Elisa into the canal where he uses his abilities to heal Elisa's wounds and transform the scars on the side of her neck into gills, giving her the ability to breathe underwater, thus allowing them to be together forever.


  • Elisa Esposito, a mute custodian at the facility who falls in love with the Amphibian Man. She is the main protagonist of the film.
  • Colonel Richard Strickland, the man in charge of the creature research team. He is the main antagonist of the film.
  • Giles, Elisa's friend and neighbor, a closeted commercial artist.
  • Amphibian Man, the creature and "asset" being tested at the facility that Elisa falls in love with. He serves as Elisa's love interest in the film.
  • Dr. Robert Hoffstetler/Dimitri Mosenkov, one of the facility's scientists and a Soviet spy.
  • Zelda Delilah Fuller, Elisa's friend and co-worker.
  • General Frank Hoyt, Strickland's superior.
  • Fleming, another of the facility's scientists.
  • Elaine Strickland, Richard's wife.
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