Did you watch the Oscars this past Sunday night? I don’t always do so, but KRMA was having yet another set of fundraising programs, and the guys were playing a game that I didn’t want to participate in, and I always like to see at least a little bit of the show, if for nothing else than to observe the crazy outfits that the women wear. Honestly! If we women don’t want to be treated as sexual objects, why do we put ourselves on such display?
Well, enough of that. As the world now knows, “The Shape of Water” won Best Picture. I was rooting for “Dunkirk” or “Darkest Hour,” both of which I’d seen and loved, but it was not to be. “Shape” hadn’t held any particular fascination for me, but the more I heard about it the more familiar it seemed. Then I realized, wait a minute—that’s the plot of a Book I read years ago, Mrs. Caliban. And didn’t the sea creature somewhat resemble a character in a Movie that all three of us loved, “Hellboy”? (I know, I know—what a name. But that’s what the comic book calls him.) So I did a little digging around and, sure enough, there was an article drawing attention to the resemblance between the book and the movie, and another one about the connection between the two amphibious men who each fall in love with a human woman. The article also pointed out that, well, after all, Guillermo del Toro also directed both “Hellboy” movies. The creature in “Shape” is very similar to Abe Sapien, the amphibious man in the comic book epic. And the same actor, Doug Jones, played both characters.
So first I’m going to recommend the book to you, with a caveat. This won’t be a spoiler, since it’s implied by the title, but Dorothy and Larry (her name for the amphibian) do indeed make love, or have sex, of whatever you want to call it, but there’s no detail given at all, and the sex isn’t really the point anyway. The theme of the book is loneliness and betrayal, pretty big themes for such a short novel. It’s more of a novella, really. I just went back and finished it so I could be sure it ended up being worthwhile. I was able to check out the Kindle edition from my library., but if you can’t get it that way the price for that edition on Amazon is only $4.99. No audiobook version, I’m afraid.
And I’ll also give you a clip from the movie. This is actually from “Hellboy II—The Golden Army” from around 2008. I was pleased to see that this clip has a ton of YouTube posts. Hellboy is in love with Liz, the pyrotechnic girl, and Abe is in love with a princess (it’s all very complicated). The two very, very strange male creatures end up drinking beer and singing along to “Can’t Smile Without You” by Barry Manilow. I remember watching the movie with Jim and Gideon some years ago and finding this scene to be so . . . perfect. Also, without getting all philosophical about a movie based on a comic book, the movie celebrates maleness. Even though HB and Abe are completely different from each other in appearance, they are both fully masculine, both helpless in the grip of romance. That’s a good quality to see on film as our culture seems to move more and more away from the idea of distinct sexes. I just don’t know where all this is going to end, do you? So you can watch the clip and decide if you want to get the whole movie from some streaming service or other. (And I wouldn’t worry too much about the devilish overtones of Hellboy, as the Bible never says that the real Devil, or any of his minions, actually have cloven hooves, tails, horns, or red skin. Also, just so you know, I found the original “Ghostbusters” to be very off-putting. I felt very uncomfortable watching it. But I have had no such problems with either “Hellboy” movie. It sounds really weird for me to say it, I know, but they’re both very good-hearted and kind of sweet. As my family knows, the worst thing I can say about anything is that it’s “mean-spirited.”)
So read the book, stream the movie, and stay home from the theater. See? Look how much money and effort I saved you! (If you buy the book through Amazon, be sure to use the link above, as that is an affiliate link for me and I’ll earn a few pennies at no additional cost to you.)
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