For months now, Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape Of Water has been facing a number of plagiarism accusations, with the outcry gaining a bit of steam thanks to the film’s many Academy Award nominations. Digg has put together a breakdown of the things that The Shape Of Water seems suspiciously similar to, specifically Paul Zindel’s 1969 play Let Me Hear You Whisper and a 2015 short by a Dutch student filmmaker called The Space Between Us. The latter has mostly been dismissed as a coincidence, with the short’s producers talking to Del Toro and determining that there was no way he could’ve lifted any ideas from The Space Between Us.
The similarities to Let Me Hear You Whisper seem a bit harder to ignore, though. For starters, Del Toro’s movie is about a mute woman working as a custodian at a laboratory where the government is conducting mysterious experiments. Zindel’s play is about the same thing, though the woman is simply very introverted instead of mute. Del Toro’s movie has the woman develop a relationship with a fish man who is being experimented on, and Zindel’s play has the woman develop a relationship with a dolphin that is being experimented on. Eventually, both women attempt to free the captured aquatic creature.
Zindel’s son told The Guardian he was “shocked” at how similar the movie was to his father’s play, but Fox Searchlight—the studio behind The Shape Of Water—maintains that Del Toro didn’t know anything about Let Me Hear You Whisper, telling Vanity Fair that he “has never read nor seen Mr. Zindel’s play in any form.” Also, as io9 notes, part of the idea for The Shape Of Water was supposedly invented by Daniel Kraus—co-author of the Shape Of Water novel alongside Del Toro—when he was a teenager.
Barring one side giving in, it seems like this controversy isn’t going to go away any time soon. No matter what happens, though, at least there’s a lot of content available these days about silent women falling in love with sea life. Surely that’s a genre that someone out there is super into.