Was The Shape of Water copied from elsewhere?


It seems that BAFTA and the Oscars are seemingly on the verge of bestowing Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water with multiple awards but there’s controversy. Naysayers are flinging claims of plagiarism against the film alleging that the film has pilfered ideas, stories et al from other sources.

Firstly is the claim that its strikingly similar to a 1982 novella called ‘Mrs Caliban’ written by Rachel Ingalls. The story follows a repressed housewife who has a fling with a ‘gigantic six foot seven inch frog like creature’ which frankly could be our Editor (‘You’re fired!‘ – Ed). In the book the pair, ‘made love on the living room floor and on the dining room sofa and sitting in the kitchen chairs and upstairs in the bathtub’. Like the film the story is about the creature’s escape form captivity as well as its sexual liberation.

Another allegation has been made by the son of the late playwright Paul Zindel who suggest that Del Toro has lifted the plot of The Shape of Water directly from, ‘Let Me Hear You Whisper’ a play his dad had written in 1969. It’s a fair point as the play is about a cleaner who works in a research laboratory where she falls in love with an intelligent dolphin being held in a tank.

And lastly French film maker Jean Pierre Jeunet alleges that Del Toro cut and pasted a short scene from his 1991 film ‘Delicatessen’ where two characters gently bounce on a bed in time with the music of a black and white film playing on a TV. Personally we’d allege that Jeunet killed the Alien franchise with the pant ploppingly awful ‘Alien:Resurrection’ which did the opposite to what the title suggested…….but we digress.

Delicatessen The shape of water

And lets not forget the very obvious influence of The Creature from the Black Lagoon on The Shape of Water.

Plagiarism is nearly always alleged in these kind of award laden films and it’s  unlikely to be the last. Quite where this will go is anyone’s guess as there’s nearly always someone ultimately looking for a big payout. Strangely they seem to keep a low profile when it comes to a flop films.

Accusations of plagiarism seem to hit all walks of life. Many years ago even our Editor was accused of copying when he was doing his A levels. In fairness the Xerox machine he bought into the exam hall was a giveaway. (‘You’re still fired!’ – Ed)


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