Review: 'Water Horse'

The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep is mythology at its very best. In it, the Loch Ness monster takes center stage in a tale set on a country estate in Scotland during World War II. Little Angus MacMorrow (Alex Etel) is "confused," according to his mother Anne (Emily Watson), because he hasn't accepted that his father died in the war; Angus awaits his beloved father's return.

During this wait, a regiment of soldiers and a new handyman land on the doorstep of the manor house of which his mother is head housekeeper and bring World War II to the child's everyday life. They pull him out of the past and future and squarely into the brutal present of selfish, self-centered adults who see him less as a little boy than as a problem to be solved or put by for another time.

Angus doesn't mind, though, because he's not eager for their attention. He's got to look after the Water Horse, which he names Caruso. This is the sea creature that hatched from a huge egg he found while scavenging along the shore at low tide. Angus does all he can to nurture this rapidly-growing and voracious being, eventually drawing his sister and handyman Lewis Mowbray (Ben Chaplin) into his confidence. Caruso becomes proof positive that the imagination--the love child of a soul that wills itself to survive whatever the circumstances--can prevail over the petty cruelties and otherwise inane actions of adults who have forgotten to love the world around them.

So mighty is this being that he will be seen by other soldiers and otherwise skeptical adults. If Caruso is a metaphor for the capacity of Angus to create, recreate, and mediate his world, he is also very much part of the shared reality all in this tiny village of experience.

Caruso becomes the key to spiritual, emotional, and psychological freedom. No wonder even the meanest of soldiers can't help but see him in the end.

After the movie, a little red-haired boy who happened to be in the ladies' room with his mother told me the only problem with the movie is that the real Loch Ness monster is way bigger than Caruso. Of course, I thought. How big is the imagination, after all?

"I guess the people who made the movie wanted him to fit on the screen," I said.

"He's way bigger, though--way," the little boy said.

Way, indeed.


  1. The preview to this movie looked interesting. Your review made it more so.

  2. This sounds intriguing. My favourite Loch Ness movie so far is The Incident at loch ness by Werner Herzog, but I don't think its been widely distributed, even in Scotland!

  3. The comment about the child saying that the real Loch Ness monster was "way bigger" struck a cord with me. I remember how when I was younger, it was very important to me that the Loch Ness existed. I had articles, etc. from several dubious sources that "proved" it. I wonder if that is a common thing for kids and why.

  4. My 9-year-old daughter saw the movie and was quite frightened by the violence whirling around the central story. I'm hoping to see it, but it looks like I'll have to wait for the DVD as no other kid wants to go with me. (And I can't ever go without those things with me.)

  5. I haven't seen the movie, or indeed heard of "The water Horse". However, I have been to Loch Ness twice and can well imagine how one child's fantasy can make it "live" and another child imagine it to be bigger than the already rather large lake. It is almost a pity that the monster cannot exist.

    The last time we visited Loch Ness, we passed a petrol station on our way through Inverness. They had a large, green plastic dragon on display and when our youngest daughter (then aged 7) saw it, she said: "Now I've seen it. Let's go home". What a let-down.

    BTW, my favourite book is "Lord of the Rings."

  6. your review makes it so interesting.... happy new year to you......

  7. Anonymous6:22 PM

    A dynamite movie...a must see...a way must see.

  8. Anonymous6:22 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. We saw this movie yesterday with my 12 year old daughter, 9 year old son and 6 year old son. It alternately scared them silly and had them weeping their little eyes out. I thought it was pretty intense myself.


  10. I'm SOOOO looking forward to this movie. Many years ago we journeyed around Scotland, and we spent time at Loch Ness. I plan to post about that on my Vintage Tees blog soon. I've been fascinated with Nessie for a long time, and it'll be interesting to see how the movies interpret her. Mahalo for the review!

  11. Sounds like a great movie Sandy. I'm sure it will eventually arrive here. When I was growing up we took quite a lot of holidays in Scotland. We visited Loch Ness once but didn't see any sign of Nessie! The little boy's remark about the Loch Ness monster being "way bigger" made me smile!


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