THE SHAPE OF WATER MAY BE FACING DEEP WATER
Steven T. Lowe
On June 4, 2018, attorneys for David Zindel (son of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paul Zindel) argued that Guillermo del Toro’s film “The Shape of Water” has “substantial similarities” to his father’s 1969 play “Let Me Hear You Whisper,” and that dismissing the suit was not justified.
Zindel contends both stories, “The Shape of Water” and “Let Me Hear You Whisper,” depict a lonely janitor at a secret government laboratory during the Cold War who develops a loving relationship with an intelligent sea creature, and that “Defendants predictably, and improperly, rely on elements added to their film, largely in its third act and these additions don’t change the similarities between the two works.” These contentions were made in response to a motion to dismiss in which defendants stated, “The play is a “short, straightforward,” three-person play about the evils of animal experimentation, while the film is a “sweeping, and decidedly adult,” blend of genres.”
Defendants in their motion to dismiss also argued “The Shape of Water” arises out of the unprotected idea of a relationship between human and an animal, and that the only similarity between the heroines of the play and the movie is their occupation.
Zindel’s attorneys stated, “When there’s a high degree of access alleged in a complaint, there’s a lower requirement to show similarity…Nonetheless, “myriad” parallels between the play and the film would lead a reasonable juror to find substantial similarity.”