The current apple of the eye of the world’s cinema community, Guillermo del Toro, the Guadalajara-born director of the acclaimed “Shape of Water,” has been accused of pilfering plot elements from the play of a deceased Pulitzer-Prize-winning playwright.
The play, written in the late sixties by Paul Zindel, is about a cleaning woman in a laboratory who forms a bond with a dolphin interned there. Like the film’s protagonist, she plays music for the creature to try and illicit an emotional reaction. The estate of the playwright is currently suing the director, known for previous hits such as “Pan’s Labyrinth” and the “Hellboy” movies.
The film’s distributor, Fox Searchlight, issued a statement saying the claims “are baseless, wholly without merit.” They plan to push for the suit to be thrown out.
Del Toro, for his part, dismissed and ridiculed the allegation out of hand, pointing out the big difference between a dolphin and a humanoid river god.
“These two ideas aren’t in any way interchangeable or equivalent. It’s like saying E.T. would be the same if you substituted the alien for a hamster.”
Last Sunday, Del Toro won the Best Director award at the Baftas, the United Kingdom’s equivalent of the Oscars. He is the bookies’ favorite to pick up the same prize at the Academy Awards ceremony on March 4.