Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet accuses Guillermo Del Toro of plagiarism in The Shape of Water

Ben Arnold

Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the director of celebrated arthouse movie Delicatessen, has accused Guillermo Del Toro of copying a scene from his movie in his Oscar hopeful The Shape of Water.

The scenes in question both feature two characters sitting down, but then moving into a dance routine while still seated.

In The Shape of Water, the scene features the movie’s star Sally Hawkins and Richard Jenkins.

“I told [del Toro]: ‘You have a lot of imagination, a lot of talent. Why go and [steal] the ideas of others?’” Jeunet told the magazine Ouest-France (first spotted by The Playlist).

“He said, ‘We owe Terry Gilliam everything.’ According to [del Toro], he does not steal from others, it is Terry Gilliam who has influenced us all.

“When he [directs] the scene of the couple sitting on the edge of the bed dancing with their feet, with the musical in the background on TV, it is so copied and pasted [from] Delicatessen that there is a moment when I say to myself that he lacks self-respect.

“Guillermo has enough talent not to do that. It is obvious that he had Delicatessen in mind.”

You can see both scenes below to compare:

It’s not the first time that Del Toro’s movie, which has landed 13 Oscar nominations, has been accused of plagiarism.

The estate of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paul Zindel has said that the movie is ‘obviously derived’ from his 1969 play Let Me Hear You Whisper.

The play is about a female janitor who bonds with a captive dolphin in a research centre, and works towards rescuing it.

The Shape of Water, meanwhile, finds Sally Hawkins playing a female janitor who falls in love with a man/fish hybrid creature being studied at a research facility, and attempts to rescue him.

David Zindel, Paul Zindel’s son, who runs his estate, told The Guardian in January: “We are shocked that a major studio could make a film so obviously derived from my late father’s work without anyone recognizing it and coming to us for the rights.”

There’s even another short film alleging similarities – a short from 2015 by Dutch director Marc S. Nollkaemper, in which a cleaning lady falls for another fish-like creature.

Fox Searchlight, the movie’s distributor, has denied any allegations of plagiarism.

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