Audience identification with character: Empathising with the ‘Other’ in ‘The Shape of Water’

Del Toro’s Amphibian Man is the emotional centre of the story. Initially presented as the archetypal B-movie monster, lashing out at its captors, he is shaped into the romantic lead alongside Elisa, the first who recognises his humanity and refers to him as ‘him’. While a reptilian creature is not something an audience can relate to, the outsider who finds love and takes action is clearly identifiable. His natural curiosity, underdog vulnerability and love for Elisa endear us to him, until we see the soul beneath the scales of this strangely human character and empathise with the loneliness of those born different.



Del Toro, Guillermo. 2017. The Shape of Water [Film]

Character Analysis: Lee Chandler’s tragic burden in 'Manchester by the Sea'

As soon as Lee Chandler sets foot in Manchester it becomes clear he has a past that made him notorious. Seething with rage at himself and the world, Lee performs his role as guardian for his dead brother’s son in spite of the unbearable burden of inner coldness and emptiness. Lee’s conflict is internal. The flashbacks slowly reveal the devasting backstory surrounding the deaths of his children. The tragic character’s action are consistent with the irreparable personal loss he is suffering. In the end, Lee leaves his nephew with his brother’s friend. The burden of guilt leaving him unable to move on.



Lonergan, Kenneth. 2016. Manchester by the Sea [Film]

Colour & Story

"A sunny, hopeful yellow. An introspective turquoise. An arresting, violent red. When you see a color in a film, what you see is no accident — filmmakers carefully compose each frame and make color decisions that affect your experience of watching." (Kate Torgovnick May, 2017)

Following on from earlier research into the use of colour in films, I discovered an article by Kate Torgovnick May, in which she identifies four ways a filmmaker uses colour to deepen the narrative of their films:

  1. Colour simplifies complex stories
  2. Colour makes the audience feel
  3. Colour shows a character’s journey
  4. Colour communicates a film’s ideas

Colour simplifies complex stories

  • Using different tones can help the viewer follow stories that jump between characters and locations.
  • Different tones can signal different time periods in films with multiple story-lines.

Colour makes the audience feel

In discussing the impact colour can have upon the way in which an audience feels when watching a film, Torgovnick May refers to the work of Danielle Feinberg, a director of photography at Pixar. Some of the key points that I found interesting are:

  • Lighting and colour are the backbone of emotion.
  • Colour can be used to hint at a character’s emotion (e.g. dull and grey to convey depression).
  • For each film, Pixar creates a ‘colour script’ that maps out the colour hues for each scene, so they fit together in the overall story arc. The aim being to make key moments feel appropriately vibrant or sombre.
  • Colour amplifies important moments within a film.

Colour shows a character’s journey

  • Colour can be used to show the evolution of a character. If the story is broken up into distinct parts, a different colour can be used for each part to indicate the way in which the character is changing at key moments within the film (e.g. childhood, teenage years, adult).

Colour communicate’s a film’s ideas

  • Colour reveals a film’s meaning.
  • For example, the repetition of a specific colour is often associated with an idea. When the colour changes, the concept has changed.

I found these I ideas very helpful, because it shows that the use of colour within a film plays a vital role in the filmmaker’s storytelling. It can be manipulated to highlight a character’s emotions, amplify key moments within a film, or reveal the ideas within a film.

I like the idea of using the repetition of a specific colour to communicate a particular idea.

I also like the idea of creating a ‘colour script’ for mapping out the hues for each scene.


Torgovnik May, K. 2017 ‘How color helps a movie tell its story’ In: Ted At:[Accessed on 31 May 2018]