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The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep
The Water Horse Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jay Russell
Produced by Jay Russell
Douglas Rae
Robert Bernstein
Barrie M. Osborne
Screenplay by Robert Nelson Jacobs
Starring Emily Watson
Alex Etel
Ben Chaplin
David Morrissey
Brian Cox
Music by James Newton Howard
Cinematography Oliver Stapleton
Editing by Mark Warner
Studio Columbia Pictures
Revolution Studios
Walden Media
Ecosse Films
Beacon Pictures
Distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing
Release date(s) 25 December 2007 (2007-12-25) (United States)
8 February 2008 (2008-02-08) (United Kingdom)
Running time 112 minutes
Country United States
United Kingdom
New Zealand
Language English
Budget $40 million
Money made $104 million

The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (stylised on-screen as simply The Water Horse) is a 2007 children's film directed by Jay Russell and written by Robert Nelson Jacobs, based on 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 film 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 were completed by the New Zealand-based companies Weta Digital and Weta Workshop. The Water Horse was released in the United States on 25 December 2007 and in the United Kingdom on 8 February 2008.

This was originally the last film to be released by Revolution Studios until 2017’s '.


In present-day Scotland, a couple of American tourists meet an old man who, upon request (after seeing the surgeon's photo), tells them about the Loch Ness Monster and why the photo is a fake.

In 1942 during World War II, a boy named Angus MacMorrow lives in the manor house of Lord Killin on Loch Ness with his mother Anne MacMorrow and his sister, Kirstie. Lewis Mowbray comes to work as a handyman there. Angus' father Charles, the former handyman, is a sailor in the Royal Navy, missing since his ship was sunk in the war a year ago; Angus is unable to accept he won't return.

One day, while collecting seashells, Angus discovers a large, mysterious egg in the sand, and an unknown creature hatches, which he calls 'Crusoe' after Robinson Crusoe. He decides to keep the creature a secret, eventually telling his sister and Lewis. Lewis explains that it is a genderless "Water Horse" that lays one egg, then dies before it hatches.

Royal Air Force Royal troops arrive at the house, commanded by Captain Thomas Hamilton – a friend of Lord Killin. An artillery battery is set up near the lake to defend against German U-boats while the troops set up on the grounds. Meanwhile, Lewis decides Crusoe is so big they have to free it in the loch.

Captain Hamilton proclaims Lewis to be a bad influence, and Angus' mother allows him to teach Angus some discipline. After a few days of training, he escapes, returning to the lake and a full-grown Crusoe, who gets Angus to ride on its back. After some time, it begins to dive. Angus protests diving, later enjoys himself and finally overcomes his phobia.

The next day, Captain Hamilton takes the MacMorrow family to a hill overlooking Loch Ness; Crusoe is almost hit by an exploding shell during a firing demonstration. Angus interrupts to save Crusoe from injury or death, enraging Hamilton and irritating his mother, unfamiliar wiith Water Horses and won't believe him. He is punished, having to be in his room at six every night for a month.

Two fishermen who had seen Crusoe, try to take a photo of the creature for fame and fortune. When they can't photograph the real thing due to the bombardment, they create an imitation. (The result is the real-life faked photo of The Loch Ness Monster known as "The Surgeon's Photo".) It interests a few soldiers, who go out to hunt it.

Sneaking out of his room with his sister's help, Angus visits the lake, calling for Crusoe. Crusoe rises, still in shock and fear from the earlier bombardment, nearly bites off Angus's hand before sinking back into the loch. Hamilton's dog Churchill, having smelled Crusoe from the shore, alerts the soldiers of its presence. Crusoe then surprises the soldiers, capsizing their boat but not before one of them sends out an SOS to Hamilton, who thinks the Germans are attacking. At the loch, Angus tries to calm Crusoe, who is attacking Strunk, wades into the lake, slips and sinks.

Crusoe rescues Angus. When his mother arrives, she finally believes him when she sees Crusoe, though at first she accuses Lewis of filling Angus's head with nonsense. The nearby artillery battery soon opens fire upon Crusoe, mistaking it for a German U-Boat. Angus, Hamilton, Anne and Lewis lead Crusoe to safety at the net, who escapes into the sea.

At sunrise, Angus finally accepts his father has passed before they watch Crusoe go. It is implied that Anne is also ready to move on, having fallen in love with Lewis. Over the years, several people claim spotting it but Angus never sees Crusoe again while others say that it returns, seeking Angus.

The tourists thank the old storyteller and ask for his name, which he reveals to be Angus Macmorrow. Outside the pub, a mother calls out to her son William, who is walking down the beach. He spots a large 'rock', which has an iridescent blue shell just like Crusoe's, hinting that Crusoe has left a descendant behind to become the next Water Horse.


  • Alex Etel as Angus MacMorrow
    • Brian Cox as Older Angus MacMorrow
    • Louis Owen Collins as young Angus MacMorrow
  • Emily Watson as Anne MacMorrow
  • Ben Chaplin as Lewis Mowbray
  • David Morrissey as Captain Thomas Hamilton
  • Priyanka Xi as Kirstie MacMorrow
  • Marshall Napier as Sgt. Strunk
  • Joel Tobeck as Sgt. Walker
  • Erroll Shand as Lt. Wormsley
  • Craig Hall as Charles MacMorrow
  • Geraldine Brophy as Gracie


The score was composed by James Newton Howard. Sinéad O'Connor contributed to the soundtrack with "Back Where You Belong".

Poetic license

The film does take some liberties with Scottish geography:

  • The opening shot is of Eilean Donan Castle which is on the west coast of Scotland, some 35 miles (55 km) west of Loch Ness.
  • A panning shot past Urquhart Castle (which is on the shore of Loch Ness) reveals some large islands in the loch, but Loch Ness contains no such islands.
  • The film plot has Loch Ness opening directly into the sea via a wide channel between high cliffs, making it a saltwater loch. In fact, Loch Ness is a freshwater loch with its surface some 80 feet (24 m) above sea level, and is connected to the sea (about 5 miles or 8 km to the north) by the shallow River Ness, which flows through the City of Inverness. For this reason, anti-submarine nets would not have been needed on Loch Ness, 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 Loch Ness has very opaque waters, with visibility mostly being a lot less than 5 m (16 ft).

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 States – but this ship was not built until 1952.

Box office

The film was a moderate box office success and grossed about $9 million during its opening weekend. As of October 2010, the film has grossed a total of $103,071,443 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.

Home video

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on 8 April 2008, with 646,841 units sold in the opening weekend for a total of $12,678,084. As of 2012, 1,611,757 units had been sold for a total of $30,598,707.

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