Movie review: “The Water Horse”

The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (2007) was a thoroughly beautiful fantasy film (trailer on YouTube), directed by Jay Russell (interviewed here) and based on Dick King-Smith’s children’s novel of the same title.

Set in Scotland during the 1940s (and filmed primarily in New Zealand, with a few scenes shot in Scotland), it focuses on one particular episode in a young boy’s life. Angus MacMorrow (Alex Etel) is a withdrawn young boy who lives with his older sister and his mother Anne (Emily Watson), who is the housekeeper of a large manor house on the shore of Loch Ness. Angus’ father is a sailor in the Royal Navy, who went missing after his ship was sunk during the War; Angus, though, refuses to believe that his father could be dead and has built something like a shrine to him in a garden shed in the grounds of the estate.

One day, Angus is looking for shells in some rockpools (like most of us did as kids!), when he comes across a big, egg-shaped, solid-looking ‘rock’. Intrigued, he takes this home and hides it in the garden shed; he manages to break off part of the outer shell, revealing a strangely luminous shimmering blue gel inside. But before he can investigate further, his mother calls him back to the house.

When he returns to the shed in the middle of the night during a raging thunderstorm, he finds that the ‘egg’ has ‘hatched’. After some searching, he locates the peculiar little creature, which looks a little like a miniature dinosaur, combining features of a horse, a dog, an eagle and a giraffe. He names it Crusoe (after Robinson Crusoe) and the two develops a very close bond.

Unfortunately, the rural idyll is disturbed the very next day, when troops of the 12th Medium Regiment Royal Artillery, under the command of Captain Thomas Hamilton (a friend of the owner of the manor house), played by David Morrissey, arrive on the estate. They set up camp outside and inside the house, and erect an artillery battery on a hill overlooking the lake – ostensibly because they fear an invasion by German u-boats.

Around the same time, a good-looking handyman by the name of Lewis Mowbray (Ben Chaplin with a delectable Scottish accent) arrives at the manor to assist Anne with some repairs. As Crusoe is growing rapidly and can clearly no longer be hidden away in the garden shed, Angus reluctantly confides in his sister and in Lewis, who immediately recognises that Crusoe is a water horse. He explains to the siblings that there is always only one water horse in the world at any one time, and that it reproduces asexually, laying a single egg before dying.

I don’t want to spoil the rest of the plot – just go and see it.

What a beautifully filmed, emotional rollercoaster of a movie!

Loved it!


Other movies we’ve watched in July:  

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