The 90th Academy Awards are on Mar. 4 and “Shape Of Water,” directed by Guillermo del Toro, is a clear favorite going into the award ceremony with 13 nominations. However, one thing is looms overhead that could potentially stop “Shape Of Water” from sweeping up at the Oscars: copyright infringement. The creators of “Shape Of Water” are being sued for allegedly copying the plot line of the play “Let Me Hear You Whisper,” written by Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Zindel.
“Shape Of Water” is a about a mute female custodian working in a top secret government facility where she meets a mysterious aquatic creature and the two develop a unique bond. Viewers pointed out the similarity to “Let Me Hear You Whisper” because it is a play about a lonely janitor woman, who is also working in a military facility, and creates a deep connection with a intelligent aquatic creature held in a glass tank. David Zindel, the son of Paul Zindel,is accusing the creators of “Shape Of Water” of plagiarizing his father’s play.
“It came as a total shock to us that his original work would be so blatantly and extensively taken,” Zindel said in a CNN interview.
Toro the director of the film refuted the claim by telling the newspaper outlet, Deadline he had never read nor seen the play.
Toro added that he’d never heard of this play before making ‘The Shape of Water,’ and none of his collaborators ever mentioned the play.
Fox Searchlight also released a statement saying that Toro is typically open about discussing his influences in his movies, but this statement comes as no surprise according to Screen Rant, as no studio will confess to plagiarism even if it is true.
Copyright infringement is nothing new in Hollywood (Avatar and Black Swan were hit with multiple plagiarism lawsuits) but what is special about this case is the timing; the lawsuit came the day after Oscar judges began voting. The Zindels are not expected to win the lawsuit but it could ruin the chances of an Oscar for “The Shape of Water.”