Three years after filing a plagiarism complaint against Guillermo del Toro and his film The Shape of Water, the court of appeal has cleared the director.
Oscars for Best Film and Best Director in 2018, The Shape of Water had, upon its release, been the subject of accusations of plagiarism. One from Jean-Pierre Jeunet who accused the director of having copied it, and the second from the author’s son Paul Zindel, who claimed that The Shape of Water was adapted from ‘a play by his father from 1969, Let Me Hear You Whisper.
This play tells the story of how a cleaner working in a laboratory decides to free an aquatic creature before the authorities kill it.
Fox and Guillermo del Toro immediately denied this plagiarism. The Mexican director said at the time to Deadline : “I have never read or seen this piece. I had never heard of it before making The Shape of Water and none of my collaborators told me about it.
I think what’s going on is pretty clear. For me it is a relief to take this case and the facts to court and not to public opinion.. “
“Any similarity between the two works is a coincidence”
After judgment, the Zindel family’s complaint was quickly dismissed by the court. Percy Anderson, the judge in charge of the case, explained: “Although the play and film share the basic premise of an employee of a scientific establishment who decides to free a creature subjected to scientific experiments, this concept is too general to be protected.“
The judge had indicated that the plaintiffs could not appeal. Yet in June 2020, the US Court of Appeal reviews Judge Anderson’s decision and allows the Pulitzer Prize winner’s family to appeal.
A new trial was due to open in July 2021, with new documents to study and expert testimony analyzing the two works, but The Hollywood Reporter announces that the two parties have just signed an amicable agreement.
A spokesperson for Fox Searchlight just released the following statement: “David Zindel, son of Paul Zindel, author of Let Me Hear You Whisper, admits, on the basis of confidential information obtained during the legal proceedings, that his accusations of plagiarism are unfounded. He recognizes that Guillermo del Toro is the true creator of The Shape of Water. Any similarity between the two works is a coincidence. “
The small details of The Shape of Water