“The Shape of Water” is Very Similar to 2015 Short Film “The Space Between Us”

‘The Shape of Water’ is very similar to this 2015 student short film from the Netherlands ‘The Space Between Us’. Both main characters are cleaning ladies who work in a research facility. They both fall for a fish man. Even the production design and some of the story beats are alike. One might almost think that Guillermo Del Toro took his idea straight from this short film, but then there are differences that can be noted. They both deal with the fact that the fish man is about to be euthanized and how the woman feels its her job to save him, meaning that she’s going against everything that she knows is sensible. As she escapes the guards of the facility in which she works begin to shoot at her, but unlike The Shape of Water she doesn’t seem to get hit and makes it to the water, where she eventually sheds the face mask she wears throughout the film to finally come face to face with the creature she saved.

The different between the films is that Elisa, in The Shape of Water, is mute and is later on gifted gills by the amphibian man she saves, whereas it seems as though the woman in the short film can already breath underwater just fine. In fact it seems like the apparatus she and the others wear is what keeps them drowning in the open air so to speak. Each person wears one and they all look roughly the same so it’s hard to believe that they’re wearing them because of poor air quality. In The Shape of Water there are so such devices since everyone save the amphibian man are human and very capable of surviving in the open air. Also in this movie Elisa keeps the amphibian man in her home for a period of time before finally releasing him to the wild once again.

Both movies are very touching in that they are attempting to bridge the differences between the female lead and the creature that is so different from those that have captured him. In some way they seem to sense a kinship with the creatures that is hard to understand but is easy enough to see from their interactions. It’s kind of odd that you don’t see men in movies like this as the romantic lead unless the creatures happen to be beautiful mermaids that look like supermodels on top and giant fish below. When it comes to women being the lead in such films it always seems to be a beauty and the beast kind of them rather than anything else. Really, check out the films in which men have been attracted to sea-going females such as Splash, The Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and even The Little Mermaid. Every film like this features men conversing with mermaids or a very human-looking female that looks nothing like the amphibian man in either film. Either women have very different fantasies in terms of this kind of story or there is a great deal of sexism when it comes to such tales.

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