Oscar favourite The Shape of Water faces plagiarism lawsuit from author's son

Carla Harmon
February 24, 2018

David Zindel says his father, Paul Zindel, wrote a 1969 play called, "Let Me Hear You Whisper". the story of a lonely female janitor who works graveyard shifts at a lab that performs animal experiments for military use.

The allegations, which Del Toro and the studio have denied, were first reported in January.

"I really can not stomach the timing of this accusation", del Toro added, referring to the looming Academy Awards, which nominated his film in 13 categories, including nods for best director and best original screenplay. Let Me Hear You Whisper, which aired as a TV production almost 50 years ago, is also about a female janitor in a laboratory who bonds with a sea creature whom she attempts to save.

Spoiler alert: that's "Shape of Water" to a T.

Richard Jenkins and Sally Hawkins star in the 13-time Oscar nominee The Shape of Water.

"I really can not stomach the timing of this accusation", del Toro said. Now, the accusations have escalated in the form of a 53-page lawsuit against Fox Searchlight, Twentieth Century Fox, writer/director Guillermo del Toro, and associate producer Daniel Kraus.

"Furthermore, the estate's complaint seems timed to coincide with the Academy Award voting cycle in order to pressure our studio to quickly settle", the studio added.

However, the studio behind the film is not backing down. "Despite the glaring similarities between the Play and the obviously derivative Picture, Defendants never bothered to seek or obtain a customary license from Plaintiff of motion picture and ancillary rights to the Play, nor did Defendants credit Zindel on the Picture", Zindel alleges. "Instead, we will vigorously defend ourselves and, by extension, this groundbreaking and original film". "So it'd be against my client's interest to hurt the film's chances of winning as many Oscars as possible".

This lawsuit stands to devolve into a case of "he said, he said" since director Guillermo del Toro has gone on the record stating that The Shape of Water has been marinating in his head since he saw Creature From the Black Lagoon when he was seven years old.

However, in Let Me Hear You Whisper, the creature is a dolphin rather than a half-man, half-river creature. 'It's pretty transparent what is happening here.

"I really can not stomach the timing of this accusation", he said. "I have been open about the things I love, and I have had no problem discussing them and how they were transformational in my movies".

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