The Shape of Water was the most-nominated movie at the 2018 Golden Globes, earning seven nods. Del Toro won Best Director of a Motion Picture and the film also won Best Original Score.
Some Reddit users created side-by-side comparisons of scenes from the trailer of The Shape of Water and scenes from the student film from the Netherlands titled, The Space Between Us.
Both plots include a women who cleans a research centre and they both feature a fish or merman character and a possible love story between the cleaner and the creature.
The Space Between Us takes place in a post-nuclear future where the air has been polluted so much that it is impossible to breathe in it and survive.
The film stars a humble cleaner named Juliette who has her loyalties tested when she falls for Adam, a captive merman whose gills are mankind’s last hope for survival. (Watch the trailer below.)
The Shape of Water takes place in the 1950s at a top secret research facility. A lonely janitor named Elisa forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity. (Watch the trailer below.)
One of the students who created The Space Between Us took to Facebook in July to point out the similarities between both films.
“So today Del Toro released the trailer for his newest film The Shape of Water. Seems that his film has a lot of similarities with our graduation film The Space Between Us. Not only the story but also visually it seems to be inspired by our short from 2015,” Didier Konings wrote.
He also posted the trailers for both films and told his followers to compare the clips.
Del Toro recently spoke about his inspiration to create The Shape of Water, a story of a lonely janitor in a secret research facility who falls in love with an amphibious creature.
“The idea is to create a story about love. Not a love story, but a story about love,” Del Toro said.
“I wanted to make a movie that was sort of healing for what I fear is our times right now, which is times of division by ideology that is incredibly harmful,” the award-winning director noted.
“In 1962 people started accepting the causes of tolerance, empathy … We are again in a moment in history in which, I think, we need to talk about these things,” Del Toro said.
He continued: “If there’s an epidemic of hatred I think that we can try to create an epidemic of love and understanding. So it’s a very healing fairy tale for very difficult times.”
Del Toro also spoke about creating the right creature for the film. Cinematographer Dan Laustsen said they were inspired by DP Caleb Deschanel’s work on The Natural, which backlit Robert Redford from behind, creating a halo effect
“We wanted to shoot him like a hero. Everything was backlight or sidelight, not frontlight,” Laustsen said.
“We wanted to make this the best creature ever made for Guillermo, so we did whatever it took,” said Shane Mahan, co-founder of Legacy Effects.
Del Toro has not commented on the plagiarism allegations but people on Twitter took notice of the similarities.