The Shape of Water cleans up at the Oscars

The Shape of Water cleans up at the Oscars

The Shape of Water cleans up at the Oscars

As we continue our exploration here on the Aurora blog of how cleaning and cleaners have been depicted in popular culture, this week we look at a film that triumphed at the 2018 Academy Awards, which took place in Los Angeles on Sunday night.

The Shape of Water, which tells the story of a cleaner who falls in love with an amphibious creature, won four Oscars, more than any other film on the night.

A unique romance

At the heart of the movie is the character of Elisa, played by British actress Sally Hawkins. Unspeaking, because of an unexplained event in her childhood, and living a relatively isolated and lonely life, Elisa works as a cleaner at a secret government laboratory in Baltimore. The story takes place in 1962, against the backdrop of the Cold War.

Elisa spends her days mopping floors with her talkative co-worker Zelda, played by Octavia Spencer, until her routine is turned upside-down by the arrival of an amphibious creature from the Amazon. Seen as a monster only fit to be experimented on, the 'fish-man' is subjected to horrific treatment at the behest of government agent Strickland (Michael Shannon).

Hearing his cries of anguish, Elisa begins to feel sympathy for the creature, and soon it becomes clear that there is a genuine connection between the two. This puts the quiet cleaner on a collision course with the unpredictable and increasingly unhinged Strickland.

A fairytale success

The Shape of Water has been a triumph for its director Guillermo del Toro, whose previous films include Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy and The Devil's Backbone. The pinnacle of the movie's success so far came at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday night, where it was named best picture ahead of other nominees including Darkest Hour, Dunkirk and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Furthermore, Del Toro himself was named best director and the film also took home the awards for best original music score and best production design.

The Shape of Water is not the first movie exploring the experiences of quiet, hard-working characters to attract critical praise and plenty of attention during awards season.

One of the most memorable examples is the 1993 film The Remains of the Day, which starred Anthony Hopkins as a butler named Stevens and Emma Thompson as Miss Kenton, a housekeeper. This Merchant Ivory classic saw Hopkins win the Bafta award for best actor and was also nominated for several Oscars, including best picture, best actress in a leading role and best director.

The huge success of Downton Abbey also demonstrated how it's possible to capture people's attention and tell compelling stories through the experiences of cleaners, maids, butlers and housekeepers.

Thankfully, our expert cleaners here at Aurora won't bring any cinematic conflict or awards-worthy melodrama into your business, but they will provide the professionalism and efficiency required to keep your workplace in perfect order.