When I first read the movies description, my first thought was that it must have taken major cojones or a lot of juice for a producer to convince a production company like Fox to produce a movie that was a combination of The Little Mermaid, Hellboy, Creature of the Lost Lagoon and "un toque"of La-La Land.
As it turns out, even with his ridiculous amount of past commercial success not only in movies but in video games and as a writer, in 2013, the Mexican film writer paid sculptors and designers out of his pocket to make the protagonist creature and the settings come to life. After another 12 months, he came with an almost complete product to the Fox studios.
The Shape of Water, which was produced in just 12 weeks, makes oblique rather than frontal political statements about bigotry and racism in the United States, which he has experienced first-hand - and not just early in his career as you’d expect. Even after winning as Oscar for Pan’s Labyrinth, in seeking an agent in Los Angeles, one said, “Why would I want a Mexican? I already have a gardener.”
It is fun to read interviews in Spanish since famous people will sometimes say things that are different from their interviews in English-language interviews. Referring to the classic Beauty and the Beast, he said of The Shape of Water, “Me interesaba una historia de amor natural, que tuviera también sexo, pero no fuera el punto central” (I was interested the the story of [organic] love, of which sex is a part, but not the central point).
In that same interview with Spain’s El Pais, perhaps because it was in Spanish to a European newspaper rather than American, del Toro was open about what he was seeing surrounding him today. “We live in a strange world,” he said, “where hate and cynicism are considered intelligent dialogue and if you talk about people’s feelings, you’re considered an idiot. Emotion is the new anecdote, the new punk.”