Drama Fantasy film, ‘The Shape of Water’, has been hit with a copyright legal case, claiming the film “brazenly” copied the story from a 1969 play.
Both the director, Guillermo del Toro and the Fox Searchlight studio are being sued by the family of the late Paul Zindel.
The film is up for 13 Oscar awards, and stars Sally Hawkins as Elisa Esposito, who falls in love with an amphibian-like man. It has already won Golden Globes, and its Oscar nominations include best director, best picture, and best actress.
However, Del Toro says he’s never heard of the play before making the film, and neither had any of his collaborators. It must be truly obscure if not one person had heard of it, let alone brought it up with him.
Paul Zindel’s family claim the film is “in many ways identical” to his play, ‘Let Me Hear You Whisper‘. In this story, it’s about a “little old cleaning lady” recently hired to work in laboratory where experiments on dolphins are carried out. She soon develops a relationship with one of the dolphins, and plays it music as it attempts to speak.
Fox Searchlight say these claims are completely “baseless”, and that they would “vigorously defend the ground-breaking and original film”.
“These claims from Mr. Zindel’s estate are baseless, wholly without merit and we will be filing a motion to dismiss,” a spokeswoman for the studio stated. “Furthermore, the estate’s complaint seems timed to coincide with the Academy Award voting cycle in order to pressure our studio to quickly settle.”
However, the family’s lawyer, Marc Toberoff, claimed in court that there were at least 61 similarities between the film and the play, arguing that both are set in the 1960’s Cold War, and revolve around a single cleaner and her relationship with an aquatic creature.
“The Shape Of Water, though presented to the public as a highly original work of fantasy/science fiction, in reality, brazenly copies the story, elements, characters, and themes from a work by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Paul Zindel.”
Paul Zindel’s son David said that the “glaring similarities” between both works were too obvious to ignore.
“We are very grateful for the spontaneous outpouring on social media that first brought this injustice to our attention. This troubling matter was raised with Fox five weeks ago but was met with inertia. The glaring similarities between the film and our father’s play are too extensive for us to ignore and so we had to act.”
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time the film has been accused of plagiarism. Earlier this year, viewers claimed it had similarities to a short film called ‘The Space Between Us‘. However, the Netherlands Film Academy ruled that there were no links between the two films.
So, is this a case of pure coincidence, or are the similarities far too obvious for that to be the case? We’d love to hear your thoughts on ‘The Shape of Water‘ itself. How many Oscars do you think it will claim on Sunday, March 4th?
<Story by Emily Clark>
Featured Photo Credit: The Verge