‘The Shape Of Water’ plagiarism lawsuit dismissed in court

"Any similarity between the two works is coincidental"

A lawsuit against Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape Of Water has been dismissed.

The copyright lawsuit claimed del Toro’s Oscar-winning film stole from the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Paul Zindel whose play, Let Me Hear You Whisper also involved a plot based around a creature in a research facility.

However, as reported in The Hollywood Reporter, US District Court Judge Percy Anderson, ruled “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”.


A spokesperson for Searchlight Pictures added: “David Zindel, the son of Paul Zindel, author of Let Me Hear You Whisper, acknowledges, based on confidential information obtained during the litigation process, that his claims of plagiarism are unfounded.

“He acknowledges Guillermo del Toro as the true creator of The Shape Of Water. Any similarity between the two works is coincidental.”

Speaking to Deadline in 2018 about the case, del Toro said: “I have never read nor seen the play. I’d never heard of this play before making The Shape Of Water, and none of my collaborators ever mentioned the play.”

Of Kraus being named in the filing, the director added at the time: “He has repeatedly said the he was not influenced by the play. He didn’t know the play and has not seen the play, and that is the reason we are going to court.”

The filmmaker challenged the idea that the movie and play were that similar, saying, from what he understood, the latter was “about a dolphin, and animal experimentation, about an animal being freed from a lab, and that’s the end of it.” The Shape Of Water, he added, is about “so many things”.


In a four star review of the film, NME said: “In the hands of del Toro, the strangest of premises is transformed into one of the most consistently beautiful love stories to have played out on the big screen in years – and it’s largely down to the strong sense of innocence and humanity that stops it from playing out like an interspecies freak show. Hawkins, too, has never been better, anchoring the film with an incredibly powerful performance as she lets her face do all the talking.

“Ultimately, del Toro’s masterpiece is an utter triumph in finding love and humanity in the most unlikely of places – and it asks us to do exactly the same.”