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Film / The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep

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How do you keep a secret this big?

The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (known sometimes as just The Water Horse), is a 2007 family fantasy film loosely based on a book by Dick King-Smith, directed by Jay Russell and co-produced by the same company who co-produced The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and the last film to be co-produced by Revolution Studios. The plot revolves around Angus MacMorrow (Alex Etel), a boy who lives with his mother and sister in a mansion on the shores of Loch Ness. One day while looking for shells in the tidepools, he discovers what appears to be a large egg in the sand. He takes it home and puts it into his father's shed, but when he comes back to check on it later, he finds that it hatched a mysterious creature that he decides to call "Crusoe" after Robinson Crusoe. Thus begins an adventure in secrecy and discovery that entangles itself in the age old mystery of the Loch Ness Monster.

The film also stars Emily Watson as Anne MacMorrow, Ben Chaplin as Lewis Mowbray, David Morrissey as Captain Thomas Hamilton, and Brian Cox as the older Angus MacMorrow.

This film provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Deviation: The plot of the film tells an entirely original story compared to the book, which takes place in 1933 as opposed to World War II.
  • All Animals Are Domesticated: Averted. Crusoe seems to have a real bond with Angus, but is still quite untamed, and the climax heavily implies that he eats Churchill the bulldog.
  • ...And That Little Boy Was Me: The story of the old man to the tourists ends with shaking hands and telling them his name: Angus MacMorrow.
  • Armies Are Evil: Subverted; Captain Hamilton and his troops are portrayed as gung-ho, suspicious, and uncompromising, yet are still sympathetic.
  • Artistic License – Geography: A whole litany of examples.
    • Loch Ness is depicted as opening almost directly into the sea (hence the subplot about Crusoe being mistaken for a U-Boat). In reality, Loch Ness is five miles inland and eighty feet above sea level, the only access to the sea being the shallow River Ness, making it impossible for a U-Boat to enter the loch.
    • The water is depicted as being crystal clear when Crusoe takes Angus on a ride. In reality, the water of Loch Ness has a high concentration of peat, which makes it murky and almost opaque beyond just a few meters.
    • Had Angus spent a prolonged period immersed in the water in real life, he'd be courting hypothermia in short order, given that the loch is notoriously cold.
  • Believer Fakes Evidence: with the titular creature having successfully escaped out into the open sea, its pursuers resort to faking evidence that it exists by cobbling together a replica out of junk and photographing it, resulting in the iconic Loch Ness Monster image.
  • BFG: The heavy artillery cannons brought by the Royal Artillery, designed to sink submarines.
  • Character Narrator: The older Angus MacMorrow provides the narration throughout the film.
  • Death by Childbirth: Apparently every water horse only lays one egg, and dies before they can see it hatch.
  • Demoted to Extra: Christie, Angus's older sister, whose role in the book is just about equal as his. Yet in the film, she does not find out about Crusoe until much later.
  • Disappeared Dad: Angus's dad was part of the Royal Navy. Unfortunately his ship sunk and him reported missing, which causes Angus to enter a state of denial. The original novel, however, appears to avert this.
  • Egg MacGuffin: The brief role of the titular water horse before it hatches.
  • Framing Device: The main story is presented as the older Angus MacMorrow telling his tale to tourist couple in a Scottish pub.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: Likely the fate of the story, at least for Captain Hamilton and the rest of British Army's point of view.
  • Gentle Giant: Crusoe, so long as he likes you.
  • Here We Go Again!: At the end of the movie, a little boy finds an egg just like Crusoe's.
  • Historical In-Joke: The famous supposed photograph of the Loch Ness monster is explained by two fishermen who did manage to see it, but were unable to catch it in action but needed to get evidence for a quick buck.
  • I Call It "Vera": The men of the Royal Artillery affectionately calls one of their cannons "Victoria".
  • Oh, Crap!: Captain Hamilton and Anne both get one when they hear the urgent report of one of the torpedo boats under attack and assume a German U-Boat attack, but actually Crusoe retaliating against the squad attacking him.
  • Parental Substitute: Angus comes to see Lewis as a fatherly figure even before he comes to terms with his real father's death.
  • Poor Communication Kills: During the climax of the movie, the weather and faulty radio prevents Captain Hamilton from calling off the artillery barrage when the soldiers mistake Crusoe for a German U-Boat.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: In original Celtic mythology, the water horse resembled either a seal or a horse. The water horse here resembles a plesiosaur, following the most common portrayal of the Loch Ness monster.
  • Setting Update: The book takes place in 1933 when the real Loch Ness Monster was first spotted. The movie puts this setting to WWII with the focus of The Home Front in Scotland.
  • Shellshocked Veteran: Lewis was a Naval gunner with the scars to prove it, both physical and emotional.
  • Shown Their Work: The famous "Surgeon's Photo" of the Loch Ness monster is indeed a hoax, though the reason for the hoax is different than in the film.
  • Single Specimen Species: The eponymous species. It's explained that each water horse lays a single egg and does not live to see it hatch. Whether there has always been only one water horse is not stated, but that's what the legends say and it certainly seems to be that way now.
  • The So-Called Coward: After several unpleasant exchanges with Lewis and calling him a coward, Captain Hamilton tries to dig up dirt on his service record only to find it exceptionally clean, with an honourable discharge to boot. If anything, Lewis was pretty much a hero compared to the rear-service Hamilton.
  • Soldiers at the Rear: While Captain Hamilton insists that their position is the front lines of the war effort, his subordinates snicker behind his back saying that they are far and relatively safe from the real thing (as their effort is mainly to prevent a German u-boat invasion, something that never happened in the war).
  • Stock Ness Monster: Somewhat averted in that the story actually tries to make Crusoe into the legend of the Loch Ness monster, meaning that he's what its actually based on. This would mean that Crusoe's ancestors were probably the monsters sighted many many years before Crusoe's birth.
  • Truly Single Parent: A water horse is a hermaphroditic creature that produces an egg without any assistance from another organism.

Alternative Title(s): The Water Horse