The Shape of Water Analysis

Okay, first of all, that class about The Room sounds great and it is tearing me apart.

I have a couple of questions about The Shape of Water and its storyform. It was my favourite of all the Oscar-nominated movies, but there were a couple things that felt like they were almost ‘breaking the storyform’, and I’m just wondering if there are reasons for that, given that it has a complete storyform. (Minor spoilers ahead, maybe?)

  1. The voice-over. Even though Elisa is clearly the MC (with, like, five great examples of her being Do-er in the first 10 minutes), it’s Giles that opens and closes the movie with his voice-over. Dramatica typically stresses that the voice-over is almost always a sign of that character being the MC. So, is this an exception because it’s just a framing device, or is it a structural problem?

  2. The other thing is the OS. The first time I saw it, I was convinced it was Physics. No question. The second time, I was thrown. Because there is SO MUCH talk about The Future (“We don’t want the red design anymore. Green is the future now, and the family needs to look happier about the future.”; “the future of America is bright, son”; “this car is the car of the future”; “you’re a man of the future”). And even the issues below that are all over the script, Delaying stuff specifically (the Russian specifically is constantly being told “you have to delay the procedure” and everything he does to the Americans is all about “we can’t do this now”, “we have to hold it off”) and making a Choice (“We need to make a decision about the asset”; the General saying “At the end of the day, it is my damn decision”).

Basically, just a lot of Situational thematics appearing, specifically around the Russians and Michael Shannon’s character. So, if the OS is in Physics/Learning, is there a reason for all of this constant talk of the future? Is it just that the author perhaps thought they were writing a Situation story, rather than a Physics one? Or could it be just a tiny sub-story in the background specifically centering around the Russian/American conflict?

Apologies if this is off-topic. Feel free to move it to a separate topic if so.

This is not correct. Dramatica doesn’t say this at all, though I can see how point-of-view and perspective can be misinterpreted that way.

Giles is the Narrator and Influence Character.

No real structural problems with that. Narration is a Storytelling/Storyweaving choice and can, therefore, be attached to anyone.

It’s the difference between subject matter and meaning.

Is the Future particularly problematic for everyone or is it just something they talk about? “This is the car of the future”: where is the problem or inequity in that statement?

Same with Delay. Speaking about Delay is not the same thing as conflict arising from Delay. “We can’t do this now”: where is the problem of inequity in that command?

The Future IS a Forewarning within the storyform, and I would say your examples would fit nicely as encodings for that Storypoint.

1 Like

Ah okay, I think I just made a leap that wasn’t there since most of the Dramatica Analyses with a voice-over tend to have the narrator as MC.

And I see what you mean about subject matter/meaning. Even writing them out, I thought “there’s not a lot behind this, it just feels like chatter”. And I couldn’t find any examples for Openness and Preconception so my argument crumbled beneath me even while typing! I just wanted an explanation as to why that is, and the one I got makes complete sense.

Thanks for clarifying, Jim!

1 Like