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The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep is a 2007 fantasy film directed by Jay Russell. The screenplay by Robert Nelson Jacobs, is an adaptation of Dick King-Smith's children's novel The Water Horse. It stars Alex Etel as a young boy who discovers a mysterious egg and cares for what hatches out of it: a 'water horse' (loosely based on the Celtic water horse) which later becomes the fabled Loch Ness Monster. The movie also stars Emily Watson, Ben Chaplin, and David Morrissey.

The film was produced by Revolution Studios and Walden Media, in collaboration with Beacon Pictures, and was distributed by Columbia Pictures. Visual effects, which included the computer-generated imagery of the water horse (named "Crusoe" by Etel's character) were completed by the New Zealandmarker-based companies Weta Digital and Weta Workshop — visual effects companies who worked with Walden Media before on the productions of The Chronicles of Narnia films. The Water Horse was released in the United States on December 25, 2007 (Christmas Day) and in the United Kingdom on February 8, 2008.

Cast

Actor Role
Alex Etel Angus MacMorrow
Emily Watson Anne MacMorrow
Ben Chaplin Lewis Mowbray
David Morrissey Captain Thomas Hamilton
Priyanka Xi Kirstie MacMorrow
Craig Halls Charlie MacMorrow
Brian Cox Old Angus
Erroll Shand Lt. Wormsley


Plot

In present-day Scotland, an American tourist couple go into a bar where they meet an old man who tells them a story about the Loch Ness Monster.

In 1942 Scotland a boy called Angus MacMorrow lives in a large manor house on the shores of Loch Nessmarker with his mother Anne (housekeeper), his sister, a cook, a maid and an old game keeper. Later they are joined by Lewis Mowbray, who comes to work as a handyman in the manor. Angus' father — a sailor in the Royal Navy — is missing since his ship has been sunk in the war. However, Angus is unable to accept that he may be dead.

One day, while looking for abandoned shells by their respective organisms, he discovers a big mysterious egg. He leaves it in his father's shed and returns later to check it out. An unknown creature hatches from it whom he calls Crusoe after Robinson Crusoe, that becomes the fabled Loch Ness Monster. Angus keeps the creature a secret, but eventually tells his sister and (reluctantly) Lewis about it. Lewis explains to Angus that it is a 'water horse' and that there is always only one such creature: creatures of this species asexually reproduce, and always die before the egg hatches.

The next day troops of the 12th Medium Regiment Royal Artillery, commanded by Captain Thomas Hamilton, a friend of Lord Killin, the owner of the house who is serving with the RAF, arrive at the house. An artillery battery is set up near the lake as defence against possible attacking or hiding German U-boats and the troops set up camp on the grounds of the house. An anti-submarine net is also raised at the mouth of the lake to prevent the entrance of German U-boats into the lake. Meanwhile, Crusoe grows so fast that hiding him becomes impossible and eventually Angus has no other option but to allow Lewis to bring it to the lake.

Captain Hamilton persuades Angus' mother to allow him to teach Angus some discipline and make a soldier out of him. She agrees but after a few days Angus escapes and returns to the lake were he left his friend. Crusoe lets him ride on its back. After some time, it begins to dive underwater, coming to the surface from time to time for breathing. Angus, scared of the water, loudly protests that it should stop diving, but later enjoys himself, perhaps even overcoming his phobia for the sea. The peaceful setting doesn't last long; Crusoe suffers from shell shock after almost getting shot by "Victoria" (a cannon; originally meant to stop submarines) aimed at the lake during a firing demonstration.

Two people who previously saw Crusoe while fishing on the lake attempt to take a photo of it in order to become rich. When they realize that they won't be able to photograph the real thing due to the bombardment test, they decide to create an imitation, which results in the real-life faked picture of The Loch Ness Monster, also known as "The Surgeon's Photo".

The photo, however fake, piques the interest of a few soldiers who venture out on the lake at night to kill it. The surprise attack proves futile for the soldiers, as Crusoe easily capsizes their boat. Angus attempts to calm Crusoe down and wades into the lake where he loses his footing and sinks. Crusoe comes to Angus' rescue and saves his life. After much coaxing from Angus, Crusoe decides to leave the loch for shelter and safety. Crusoe attempts to jump over the anti-submarine net but instead crushes it with its weight and escapes from the lake. It is implied that Angus finally accepts that his father may never return home while he sees Crusoe's departure from afar, along with Lewis and his family. (The story ends with the fact that, while several people claim to have seen Crusoe over the years, Angus never saw it again and yet never doubts that it was real.)

After the story was told (it is revealed that the story teller is Angus himself), a mother calls out to her son, who is walking down the beach and spots a rock. The rock looks similar to the egg that the water horse, or 'Nessie' as known in modern times, had hatched from. The last thing that is heard in the film is a crack from the egg, hinting to the viewers that Crusoe has died, but not before leaving an egg behind.

Production

Director Jay Russell first read Dick King-Smith's book years before the film was actually made. "With the technology where it was at the time and the cost of that technology, we couldn't get it made then," said Russell. "Technology needed to catch up. It did, and it allowed us to do things I envisioned without it costing $300 million."

Location

Filming took place in 2006 in New Zealandmarker, Scotlandmarker and at Miramar Studios in Wellingtonmarker. Most of the film was shot in New Zealand, with Queenstown's Lake Wakatipumarker doubling for a Scottish Loch. The filmakers found that some of the landscape and geography there was similar to Scotland. However Russell said, "There was no way I was going to make a movie about the Loch Ness monster and not shoot at least part of it in Scotland."

The scenes in and around the MacMorrow family's house were shot on the 100-year-old Ardkinglas Estate on the shores of Loch Fynemarker in Scotland. The owners of the estate continued to live in the house while the crew was filming there.

Special Effects

Special effects on the film were handled by New Zealandmarker special effects specialists Weta Digital and Weta Workshop who mainly did Crusoe. Most of the roughly 600 effects shots in the film involved Crusoe. And many of those shots involved the creature (Crusoe) interacting with water, which, in terms of the history of computer graphics, has always been a particularly difficult substance to deal with.In terms of the design of the creature, Weta Digital tried to not humanize him but instead based some of his expressions on real animals such as a dog. "We wanted to create something which seemed familiar, but was unique at the same time," said Russell. "As a result, Crusoe’s face is a combination of a horse, a dog, an eagle and a giraffe." When creating his movements and body shape at various stages of growth, the animators referenced animals ranging from baby birds to seals to whales.

Distribution

Promotion

A promotional poster for the film, featuring silhouettes of Etel's character and Crusoe on the loch, was seen as early as June 2006 during the New York Licensing Show alongside promotional art for the Disney Fairies and Kung Fu Panda. Another poster that features Etel's character with Crusoe on the loch during the daytime was released in October 2007.

Two teaser trailers were released in quick succession in June 2007. The first was a teaser created specifically for the Rock Ness Music Festival on June 9 and 10, but was leaked onto the internet and later pulled. A different trailer was released to Yahoo.com on 22 June 2007 and became the official teaser.

Internet promotion includes several different official different websites in the English (with individual websites for the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia), Spanish, French and Russian languages. They were launched by Sony in early November 2007 and feature photos, video clips, a video blog, games and information on the film's plot and production. Another website was created by the film's production companies, asecretthisbig.com, and is dedicated to the examination of the Loch Ness Monster's existence in reality. Additionally, the film has a YouTube account which features the video blogs from the official website, as well as additional video content.

Two sweepstakes were created for The Water Horse. The first, "See It To Believe It," awarded the winner with a family trip to the Aquarium of the Pacificmarker. The second, "Unloch the Legend" awarded the winner with a family trip to Scotland.

A 15 metre "water screen" was used to project a moving image, with sound, of the Water Horse in Tokyo Baymarker.

Release

The Water Horse was formerly scheduled for two different release dates in North America: 21 September 2007 and 7 December 2007. No reason has been given as to why either date was dropped, but the film was released across 2,772 screens in the United States, Canadamarker and Mexicomarker on Christmas day of 2007. The MPAA rated the film PG for some action/peril, mild language and brief smoking.

Multiple release dates spanning January and April 2008 have been set for worldwide audiences including Francemarker (8 February), the United Kingdommarker (13 February), Russiamarker (6 March) and Indiamarker (4 April).

The Water Horse was released on DVD and Blu-Ray on April 8, 2008.

Critical reception

The film received favorable reviews from critics. As of December 26, 2007, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 73 percent of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 56 reviews, classifying the film as "Certified Fresh". Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 73 out of 100, based on 16 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".

Pete Hammond of Maxim magazine gave the film 4 stars out of 5, saying "It's not only the perfect holiday movie, but perhaps the most wondrous film of its kind since E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial touched down." Hammond said the character Angus is "expertly played by Alex Etel," said the film was "skillfully directed by Jay Russell", and said the special effects were "stunning" and "rival the year's best."

Poetic license

The film does take some liberties with Scottish geography (due to the film having been shot largely in New Zealand):

  • The opening shot is of Eilean Donanmarker Castle which is on the west coast of Scotland, some 35 miles west of Loch Nessmarker.
  • A panning shot past Urquhart Castlemarker (which is on the banks of Loch Nessmarker) reveals some large islands in the loch, but Loch Nessmarker contains no such islands.
  • The plot demonstrates that Loch Nessmarker opens directly into the sea via a wide channel between high cliffs; this would make Loch Nessmarker a saltwater loch. In fact, Loch Nessmarker is a freshwater loch with its surface some 80ft above sea level, and is connected to the sea (about 5 miles to the north) by the shallow River Nessmarker, which flows through the City of Invernessmarker. For this reason, anti-submarine nets would not have been needed on Loch Nessmarker, as no submarines would have been able to navigate the river, even if there had been important military targets in the loch (which there weren't); the actual operation of the anti-submarine nets shown in the film owes little to reality.
  • During the underwater sections the Loch has fairly clear waters. In reality the Loch has extremely murky waters, with visibility mostly being less than 5m.


The film also has some chronological inconsistencies:
  • The production of the "Surgeon's Photograph" of the monster is shown as part of the plot, though this photo was originally published in 1934. In the film, the "Surgeon" is unable to catch a photo of the actual monster, and instead rigs up a fake monster for purposes of the photograph.
  • Angus has a toy ship which is clearly seen and is the SS United Statesmarker - but this ship was not built until 1952.


Box office performance

The film grossed about $9 million during its opening weekend. As of June 22, 2008, the film has grossed $102.5 million worldwide due to gaining about $40.4 million in the United States and about $62.1 million in foreign countries, according to the website Box Office Mojo.[307801]

DVD sales

The DVD was released on April 8, 2008,selling 646,841 in the opening weekend, brinigng in $12,678,084 in revenue. So far 1,595,106 DVD units have been sold, translating to $30,417,879 in revenue.

Facts

  • The faked picture taken in the film is a real photograph, purportedly of The Loch Ness Monster. Known as "the Surgeon's Photo", it was taken by Robert Kenneth Wilson in 1934 and was released into the Daily Mail on April 21, 1934, however this film is set in 1942, 8 years after this photo was taken.
  • The video game was developed by Atomic Planet and published by Blast! Games for the PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS, and Windows platforms.
  • The original MPAA Rating had one change, and that was Smoking. The film was toned to Brief Smoking.
  • This was the final film until Perton (film) to be produced by Revolution Studios, as the company had shut down two months before the film's release after ending a 5 year deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment as it's first date So in 2010 it will be annound that Revolution will be returned and relaunched in 2010.


See also



References

  1. Barbara Robertson, Casting Crusoe, Computer Graphics World, January 2008, Volume 31, Number 1
  2. Barbara Robertson, Casting Crusoe, Computer Graphics World, January 2008, Volume 31, Number 1
  3. The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep - Movie Reviews, Trailers, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes
  4. Water Horse: Legend of the Deep, The (2007): Reviews
  5. The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep Movie Movie Review and Rating
  6. http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/2007/WHRSE-DVD.php


External links




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