Director Guillermo del Toro defends ‘The Shape Of Water’ amid plagiarism claims

A lawsuit has been filed against the director by the estate of playwright Paul Zindel

Director Guillermo del Toro has rejected claims that his Oscar-nominated film The Shape Of Water plagiarised a Paul Zindel play.

The estate of the Pulitzer winner has filed a lawsuit against the filmmaker, alleging he, Fox Searchlight, and associate producer Daniel Kraus copied elements of Zindel’s 1969 play Let Me Hear You Whisper.

Speaking to Deadline, 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.”

Let Me Hear You Whisper follows a cleaner as she tries to free a dolphin from a laboratory that weaponises animals for military use. Sally Hawkins plays a cleaner in The Shape Of Water who forms a relationship with an amphibian creature being held in a top secret research facility.

Of Kraus being named in the filing, the director said: “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”.

The Shape Of Water was released in cinemas in the UK last week (February 14). It is nominated for 13 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress for Hawkins’ performance.