At the same junket, del Toro said there were two “essential fables” which “defined” his adolescence: Pinocchio and Frankenstein. The connection here? They’re the same story, both about artificially-created beings searching for humanity. The central relationship of both stories is the one shared by creator and creation. Del Toro himself underlined these parallels:
“These may tell you something about my relationship with my dad. But it’s this idea that you’re thrown into a world that you barely understand and you try to make sense of it as you go, and they’re definitely father and son stories that deal with that link and that bond and that shadow and so on and so forth. And they were of primal importance for me and I always failed.”
Del Toro’s history with these stories helps explain his affinity for outcasts. In “The Shape of Water,” he reinvented the 1950s monster movie as a metaphor for being a minority in America and how the marginalized form communities, relationships, and solidarity among each other.