Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Shape Of Water beat a plagiarism lawsuit because of its fishy sex scene

Illustration for article titled iThe Shape Of Water /ibeat a plagiarism lawsuit because of its fishy sex sceneem/em
Photo: Fox Searchlight

Back in February, when the world was riding high on The Shape Of Water and its timeless love story between a woman and a fish-man, the estate of playwright Paul Zindel decided that the film seemed a little familiar. Zindel’s estate sued director Guillermo del Toro, accusing him of lifting plot elements from Zindel’s play Let Me Hear You Whisper, which centers on a very introverted woman working as a janitor at a lab who develops a relationship with a dolphin that is being experimented on. Del Toro vehemently denied the accusation, noting that he constantly talks about his influences, so he’s not the sort of person who would steal a plot element without telling everybody about it, and also that he had never heard of Zindel’s play before the lawsuit brought it to his attention.

Today, as reported by Deadline, a federal judge has dismissed the lawsuit from Zindel’s estate with prejudice. The Deadline story quotes Fox Searchlight’s thorough defense of the film, which noted that Zindel’s play is a “straightforward story” that lacks “decidedly adult meld of genres” that The Shape Of Water has, including the “romantic and sexual relationship” between the woman and the fish-man (Zindel’s play doesn’t have a sex scene between the woman and the dolphin).

On top of that, Fox added that the only real similarity between the play and the film is based on the “non-protectable idea” of a person having a relationship of any kind with an animal/mythical creature, which has been seen in everything from Free Willy to E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. Del Toro, meanwhile, pointed out that he has written dozens of screenplays and received no prior complaints about plagiarism, which evidently provided some strong support for his case.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter