Non-verbal communication can be so powerful. Actress Sally Hawkins playing a mute cleaning lady named Elisa Esposito, doesn’t utter a word in the movie The Shape of Water but she speaks volumes. In her unbelievably expressive face you can clearly see love and frustration, anger, humour and intelligence. All Elisa need do is shrug her shoulder, soften her eyes or let a tiny smile begin to play at the corner of her lips and you know exactly how she is feeling. Using only sign language and body language Elisa does her job capably and has won loyal friends.
Because she can’t speak the romance she carries on with a merman, an exotic water creature being kept in the lab where she works, is even more intense and emotional than it would have been had the love affair been conducted in words.
As I watched The Shape of Water I was actually reminded of something actor Will Smith said in the movie Hitch where he is coaching a man trying to pursue the love of his life. “Sixty percent of all human communication is nonverbal body language; thirty percent is your tone, so that means ninety percent of what you’re saying isn’t coming out of your mouth.”
I was also reminded of this picture of my husband Dave carrying on price negotiations in a market in Saigon using only a calculator and his facial and body expressions. He didn’t speak the women’s language and they didn’t speak his but Dave was so good at communicating with his body language. Dave is a very funny man and he can be funny without saying a word.
Sally Hawkins may not win the Golden Globe tonight for best actress but her ability to play a woman who speaks without speaking was exceptional and reminds us all that we communicate with far more than just our words.
Other posts about communication…….
Heart’s Content- The Fishing Village That Changed the World
I Had My Toes Read
The Language of Flowers
Folk artist Maud Lewis has become something of a celebrity in Mennonite circles in the last month. One of her paintings was discovered unexpectedly in a Mennonite Central Committee thrift store in New Hamburg Ontario and is now up for auction. Bids are already over the $100,000 mark.
My friend Esther introduced me to Maud Lewis and her colourful, lively paintings many years ago. I came to love Maud’s work and was excited to see her home when I visited the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Maud’s entire house has been carefully preserved in the gallery.
I kept this brochure from my visit to Maud’s house in the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.
When I was a high school teacher Maud was one of four Canadian artists whose life story and work I used in a grade eleven English unit I created called What is Art? I remember students writing poetry about Maud and submitting it on the decorated seats of old wooden chairs or on painted cookie sheets. Maud painted almost every surface in the small house she shared with her husband Everett including kitchen utensils and furniture.
You can see that process come to life in a new movie called Maudie which focuses on the relationship between folk artist Maud Lewis and her husband Everett. I own a well- read copy of a Maud Lewis biography by Lance Woolaver and think the relationship between Maud and her husband played by Ethan Hawke has been romanticized for the movie. In a CBC interview screenwriter Sherry White admits as much. Despite taking this licence the film gives us a memorable insight into the life of a Canadian artist many people may not even know.
We took this photo of Trinity Newfoundland while on a hike. It was not only a filming location for Maudie but also for the film The Shipping News.
My husband Dave was sure as we watched Maudie that some of the scenes from the movie must have been filmed in Trinity Newfoundland a place we visited last September. Sure enough a check of film locations proved he was right! But then he almost always is. Dave also thinks actress Sally Hawkins does an Oscar worthy job of playing Maud a woman of humour and determination whose body becomes more and more twisted by crippling arthritis as the film goes on. If you want to see if he is right about that you will have to go and see the film.
Transfering the Real to the Unreal
Hiking the Skerwink Trail- An Act of Worship