Estate of Paul Zindel Accuses ‘The Shape of Water’ of Plagiarism

by John Evans

The Shape of Water has been accused of plagiarism just days after being nominated for 13 Academy Awards, including Best Original Screenplay.

The Guardian reports that David Zindel, son of the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Paul Zindel, alleges that the story of The Shape of Water- written by Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor- is similar to his father’s play, Let Me Hear You Whisper, which originally aired as a television production in 1969 when del Toro was five years old. Paul Zindel is best remembered by bored ninth graders for his 1968 novel, The Pigman.

In Let Me Hear You Whisper, a character described by IMDb’s plot synopsis as a “scrub woman” forms a special bond with a laboratory dolphin, and she hatches a plan to break it out of the lab when she learns that scientists plan to dissect the dolphin’s brain. David Zindel alleges that these characters and plot points are similar to del Toro’s story about a female custodian and her relationship with a creature from the black… aquatic holding container (Shhh… nobody tell Universal Studios!). Zindel made the following comments to The Guardian about his allegations:

“We are shocked that a major studio could make a film so obviously derived from my late father’s work without anyone recognizing it and coming to us for the rights… A lot of people are telling us they are struck by the substantial similarities… We are very grateful to Paul Zindel’s fans for bringing this to our attention.”

Fox Searchlight responded to the allegations with the following statement:

“Guillermo del Toro has never read nor seen Mr. Zindel’s play in any form. Mr del Toro has had a 25 year career during which he has made 10 feature films and has always been very open about acknowledging his influences. If the Zindel family has questions about this original work we welcome a conversation with them.”

In the January, 2018 issue of Written By, del Toro said in an interview that the idea for the film came from a conversation with novelist Daniel Kraus, who suggested they develop a film about a “janitor that kidnaps an amphibian-man from a secret government facility.” Kraus serves as an associate producer of The Shape of Water.

Stay tuned to Horror News Network for more details on this story as it develops!



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