Guillermo del Toro wins plagiarism case for his Oscar-winning film ‘Shape of Water’

The lawsuit claimed that ‘The Shape of Water’ and author Paul Zindel’s ‘Let Me Hear You Whisper’ play have similar plots centred on a creature imprisoned in a science research facility

Published: Apr 08, 2021, 16.04 (IST)

Relief for Guillermo del Toro, award-winning filmmaker who directed Oscar film ‘Shape of Water’ as he has won the plagiarism case against his film. Allegations of plagiarism came to light when the family of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Paul Zindel filed a lawsuit alleging that the movie was taken from Zindel’s play.

The lawsuit was filed in 2018. At the time, Guillermo del Toro’s ‘The Shape of Water’s Oscar nominations included 13 Academy Awards categories and it won Best Picture and Best Director awards among other awards.

‘The Shape of Water’ and author Zindel’s ‘Let Me Hear You Whisper have similar plots centred on a creature imprisoned in a science research facility. The original lawsuit was rejected by US District Court Judge Percy Anderson who stated, “The basic premise of an employee at a scientific facility deciding to free a creature that is subjected to scientific experiments” is “too general to be protected”. The copyright claim was revived in June last year as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals felt that “additional evidence, including expert testimony, would aid in the objective literary analysis needed to determine” the similarities between The Shape of Water and Let Me Hear You Whisper.

Also, a spokesperson for Searchlight Pictures claimed in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter that David Zindel, the son of Paul Zindel, author of Let Me Hear You Whisper’ has acknowledged, based on confidential information obtained during the litigation process, that his claims of plagiarism are unfounded. The report states that the author’s family acknowledges that Guillermo del Toro is the true creator of ‘The Shape of Water’.


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