Jimmy Kimmel, the host in his opening speech at 2018 Oscars had said, “Thanks to Guillermo, we will always remember this year as the year screwed up by men so badly, that women started dating fish.” The Oscar-winning Guillermo del Toro’s movie is replete with instances of men’s dominance over every individual which they consider inferior.
Zelda and Elisa: The Distressed
Zelda(Octavia Spencer), is a young and vivacious black girl who is the friend of the lead character, Elisa(Sally Hawkins) in the movie. Both of them work in a government facility in the US of 1960s. As they both carry their night cleaning activities, she confides to Elisa that her husband is inanimate. She cooks for him, butters his toast on both sides, and pampers him like a child but never got acknowledged in return. She remarks, “Man is silent as a grave.”
She is a loyal friend to Elisa, holds her queue every night so that the clock in on time, helps her riverine lover (Doug Jones) to escape from the facility, warns her against Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon), and becomes a voice to the mute Elisa. All the while, I was wondering how indifferent a man could be to his wife this much amiable, kind, and funny.
Colonel Strickland, on the other hand, is a man who wants to own a Cadillac the moment he sees it, wants his woman to be silent and believes that the god is male and white. This is certainly a pompous display of masculine power in that era. “He is a combination of what makes America great and what makes America terrible,” says Shannon about his character.
Different Will Always Be Oppressed
Hence, the plot is a smooth cocktail of its proud characters such as Elisa (a mute, Hispanic woman), her best friend Zelda (a black woman), and her lover (a river god thriving in nature and representing an ancient civilization and culture).
Her neighbor Giles (a gay artist struggling to stay relevant in the changing times), and Hoffstetler (a sensible and kindly Russian scientist) are the film’s significant others. The director’s message is clear and prompt. The different will be oppressed by a single monstrous mindset in every era.