Year Released: 2007
Directed by: Jay Russell
Starring: Alex Etel, Emily Watson, Ben Chaplin, David Morrissey
(PG, 111 min.)
"Great love can both take hold and let go." O.R. Orage
Its mythical creature may be computer generated but the flesh and blood characters are the real deal in more ways than one, and between the two they will charm the whole family. Wrap it all up in a venerable Scottish castle parked at water’s edge, throw in just enough World War II realism and romance to entrance the adults without frightening the kiddies, and you have the perfect package.
Once upon a time, this family fare was not such a rarity but instead the bread and butter of an industry that filled the box offices with The Wizard of Oz, It’s a Wonderful life, Old Yeller, The Yearling, E.T. and Star Wars, just a few examples of childhood whimsy wedded to adult reality. Now there are niche markets to pander to and things sweet, wholesome and essentially innocent have lost market value. Or at least that’s what the Hollywood producers and directors would have us think as they serve up cynical diatribes and bleak visions to half filled theaters. (We had to fight to find a seat for our Water Horse matinee.)
Angus MacMorrow (the delightful Alex Etel from Millions) lugs home a huge egg from the nearby loch, and guess what? It hatches into a baby Nessie, a kind of homely/cute little monster with a giant appetite and mostly friendly once it decides that potatoes taste better than wee little Angus’ fingers.
Angus’ main worries are stealing enough from the kitchen to keep up with its voracious appetite, finding larger and larger water playgrounds to contain the rapidly growing critter, and keeping the cook’s belligerent bulldog from tearing his beloved “Crusoe” to bits. All of which is generally good for the boy who has been living in the futile illusion that his father will be returning home from the war even though his ship was sunk over a year ago.
And yes, there is the standard chase between Crusoe and the bulldog Churchill, who certainly has the English Prime Minister’s tenacity but sadly not his brains, as he knocks down china and crystal in hot pursuit of Crusoe, who has wisely taken the “low road” under the table. Predictable, yes, but still ensured to elicit streams of giggles from the youngsters.
For the adults there are the eminently beautiful surroundings – even the soldiers billeted there to guard the loch from a surprise submarine attack comment on it – as well as the castle itself, all polished wood and gleaming staircases. The menace of war lingers around the edges, grounding our mythical creature in a sober reality, a sea that already made Angus’ mother (Emily Watson) a widow. And we have a touch of romance as Captain Hamilton (David Morrissey) vies with the mysterious handyman Mowbray (Ben Chaplin) for her affection, as well as the comic counterpart between the corpulent army cook and the castle’s rotund queen of the kitchen. The whiskey waltz and smacking kiss the two share is not nearly as funny as the look of utter disgust on Angus’ face when he witnesses it.
And then there’s the legendary lore of the “water horse” from its Celtic tradition, a solitary creature, both mother and father to the single egg it lays, which will only hatch after its death. A greater symbol of isolation and loneliness there cannot be, and in caring for it Angus shatters some of his own. We have some sly humor in Mowbray’s tale of a magic water horse asked to guide a lost sailor back to shore. According to Mowbray, either the horse does as asked or takes the poor sailor to a watery grave at the bottom of the sea – he can’t remember which. A question which becomes more than moot when Angus jumps upon the back the fully grown Crusoe in the middle of the loch.
The Water Horse is essentially a simple tale steeped in a rich atmosphere of mysterious beauty. It is a tale of love and loss told with the same tender affection that Angus lavishes on his beloved Crusoe.
— Kathy Borich
I have to thank my daughter for coming up with the most deliciously appropriate food for this film. Angus’ great adventure all begins when he discovers a grand egg on the shore of a loch in Scotland. What better film fare than these delightful fried eggs, which should more properly be labeled Scots Eggs, since in that country “Scotch” is either whisky or a mist.
At any rate, I first tasted these lovelies at a Renaissance Festival and speared on wooden sticks, they were a great walking brunch. Filling and satisfying, although not necessarily diet conscious, but sure to keep your strength up for any damp and misty adventures. If yours starts moving on its own, though, you’d better live close to the seashore.
- 4-6 hard-boiled eggs
- 1 lb sausage (your choice)
- 1 raw egg (beaten)
- 1 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
- Cooking oil
- Remove shell from hard-boiled eggs.
- Cover each egg completely with sausage.
- Brush raw egg over each sausage-covered egg.
- Roll each covered egg in seasoned fine bread crumbs.
- Deep fry until golden brown and sausage is done.
- Hint: use a good quality sausage so that it will fry well in oil, otherwise it will separate from egg.
Recipe Source: Recipezaar.com