Last February 22 2018, David Zindel, the son of playwright Paul Zindel (winner of the Pulitzer Prize), filed a lawsuit against Guillermo del Toro (director), Fox Searchlight (studio) and Daniel Kraus (producer) for the film "The Shape of Water".
According to D. Zindel, Guillermo del Toro's film was “obviously inspired” by "Let Me Hear You Whisper", a play written by his father in 1969 and takes place during the Cold War.
As can be extracted from the lawsuit, Zindel's play “tells the story of a lonely janitorial cleaning woman who works the night shift at a scientific laboratory facility that performs experiments on animals for military use. There she becomes fascinated by a fantastic intelligent aquatic creature, held captive in a glass tank. To the sounds of romantic vintage music playing on a record player, she forms a deep, loving bond with the creature, discovering that it can communicate – but chooses to do so only with her. When she learns that the authorities plan to kill the creature in the name of scientific progress, she hatches a plan to liberate the creature in a rolling laundry cart and release it at a dock that feeds into the ocean, where it will finally be free”.
For its part, "The Shape of Water" is described by Fox Searchlight as “other-worldly fable, set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1962. In the hidden high-security government laboratory where she works, lonely Elisa is trapped in a life of isolation. Elisa’s life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda discover a secret classified experiment”. An amphibious-man who lives locked up and is the victim of several experiments. Eliza engages in a sentimental relationship with him and sets in motion a mission to free him and thus prevent his death.
David Zindel's lawyer stated that: "The Shape of Water", has been 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”. Specifically, he fixes them around 61 similar elements.
Finally, Fox Searchlight has said that the accusation is "unacceptable" and that they will do their best to defend "this important and original film".
Written by: Cristina García Alzina
Source: http://www.foxsearchlight.com/theshapeofwater; https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2018/01/shape-of-water-allegations-paul-zindel; https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/jan/25/shape-of-water-oscars-paul-zindel-similarities
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