People Innovation Excellence

Analysis of Water Horse Movie : The Legend of the Deep

By  Alessandro

A 5th Semester student

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Introduction

Water Horse is a 2007 American-British family fantasy drama film. This movie was first released in United Stated on December 25, 2007. Shortly, it was released in the United Kingdom on February 8, 2008. The filming of this movie took place in 2006 in New Zealand, Scotland, and at Miramar Studios in Wellington. James Newton Howard is the composer of the soundtrack for this movie.

There is a boy whose name is Angus MacMorrow. He lives near a loch named Loch Ness in Scotland. One day, while he is looking for seashells near the loch in the morning, he comes across what appears to be a mysterious egg and keeps it in a shed. In the night of the same day, he sees a very unusual creature that hatches from the egg. He names the creature “Crusoe” and tries to get along with it as quickly as he could. The problem is that Anne, who is Angus’ mother, never allows anybody in his home to have a pet at all cost.


The water horse grows very rapidly in a matter of day. This simply gets more difficult for Angus to hide the water horse as it grows bigger and bigger every single day. Since the size of the water horse is relatively big, his home is no longer suitable for the water horse. As a result of this, someone suggests that the water horse should live and roam in a loch. The water horse has lived in a loch alone ever since. The occurrence of Angus’ unusual discovery, as a matter of fact, overlaps with World War II. People living in Scotland are having a demonstration of bombardment aimed at the loch. Crusoe gets angry because it almost gets hit by an exploding shot.


Some people who have known the existence of the water horse in the loch want to kill it for some reason. To prevent this, Angus calls out to water horse and asks it to find a place to hide. Unexpectedly, because the water horse thinks that Angus is the one making it get hurt before, it has gone so wild that it almost bites Angus. The water horse goes back to the middle of the loch, and soon aware of people wanting to kill it. He then tries to capsize the boat of those people, making the people fall down to the surface of the loch. Seeing the water horse trying to kill the people, Angus tries to stop it by approaching the water horse. Unfortunately, he slips on a stone and sinks. Luckily, the water horse stops to save him. At this moment, the wildness of the water horse has gone miraculously. The armies, along with the water horse, have to go as quickly as possible to the net made by the opponent country. Otherwise, the net will be raised and they will no longer have the access to the loch. Sadly, the net has already been raised before they arrive. The water horse tries to jump over the net and make it collapse. Everybody shouts happily, and no one appears to have interrupted the water horse ever since.


The director of this movie is Jay Russell. He was born on January 10, 1960 in North Little Rock, Arkansas. He graduated from Columbia University in 1984, successfully getting MFA in screenwriting and directing. Since he was graduated, he has written many projects as well as various documentaries. Besides being well known as a director, he is also an executive producer.
Actors
Alexander Nathan Etel plays a role as Angus MacMorrow. Emily Watson, on the other hand, plays a role as Anne MacMorrow. Priyanka Xi and Ben Chaplin are also the actors in this movie as Kristie MacMorrow and Lewis MowBray respectively. The role of Captain Hamilton is played by David Morrissey as his physical appearance is very typical of a captain.


Analysis

Plot Analysis

Exposition
There is a young boy whose name is Angus MacMorrow. He lives in a large manor house with his sister and his mother near a Scottish loch named Loch Ness. The camera takes long shot and medium shot in order to show how the loch looks from different distances. The movement of the camera is steady; as a result, the calm mood is successfully conveyed. The angle of the camera is high, but it is also bird’s eye angle sometimes. This technique is applied to allow the audience to see the loch from several points of view. The point of view is, of course, objective. The music which is being played at this moment is classical music combined with bird’s voice, radiating the peace of the loch. In terms of the color, there is enhancement in black and white to indicate past event. The lightning, on the other hand, is natural, which communicates the naturalness and the warmth of the place. To make the loch, along with the things surrounding, look very clear on the screen, the camera takes deep focus shot. The properties set in Angus’ home are old-fashioned enough to bring the idea that the story takes place sometime in the past. Anne, Angus’ mother, hires a man whose name is Lewis MowBray as a handyman. Angus, as a matter of fact, spends his childhood during World War II. One day, while Angus is looking for seashells, he comes across something that he has never seen before. He finds a very unusual sort of egg. The egg is taken in extreme close-up shot, to show every detail of the egg which would otherwise be missed in medium or long shot. Soon after, his mother calls out to him and asks him to go home. He brings the egg home and keeps it in a shed which belongs to his father. In the night of the same day, he feels really curious to know what the egg actually is. While he is trying to find out what inside the egg is, the music played is quite frightening so that the situation gets the tension of mystery. To add even more tense, it uses side lighting. He then gets the egg to hatch, and he discovers an unknown creature that looks remarkably unique. He names it “Crusoe”. It appears that he can easily get along with it. The camera takes the high angle, which is why the water horse looks powerless. He also promises to take care of it every single day.


Conflict


Angus tries his best to hide it from his mother’s sight because she never allows anybody in her home to have a pet. He eventually tells his sister and Lewis and dissuades them from telling about it to his mother unless they want his mother to get rid of it. Lewis tells them that such a creature is called “water horse” whose growth is very noticeable in a matter of day. While Lewis is telling them the story of water horse, the music played is rather slow to give an appealing story telling moment. The points of view used are Angus’ and Lewis’ to make the audience able to see Lewis’ expression from Angus’ point of view and Angus’ expression from Lewis’ point of view as well. It uses interior sunlight to signify that there is not a big problem yet. The angle of the camera is eye level because it does not want to make them look weak nor strong. The medium distance and panning movement allow the audience to listen to the story and, at the same time, observe their surroundings which are quite old-fashioned. The situation gets more difficult because the bigger the water horse is, the more difficult it is for Angus to hide it. The angle of the camera to water horse is now eye level because it no longer looks as weak as it is before. As his home is no longer big enough due to the size of the water horse, Lewis and Angus decide to bring the water horse to a loch and let it live there.

Rising Action

water horse
On the one hand, things are getting more complicated as the existence of the water horse in the loch appears to have been known by some other people. The armies, on the other hand, are having a simulation of bombardment aimed at the loch, which causes the water horse to get hurt and feel angry. The camera uses high angle and crane long shot to give a perfect point of view where it is possible to see both the armies and the loch. The movement of the camera is pan, and the speed at which it occurs is really fast. This combination sends the message that a decision needs to be made as fast as possible. It also combines the objective point of view and subjective point of view to allow the audience to position themselves as Angus and also one of the armies. To indicate danger or bad things, warm orange color creates such an atmosphere. As the music is being played at high volume, the intense increases accordingly. The camera takes the shallow focus in which it focuses more on the loch, and others seem to be out of focus.

What is worse is that some people want to kill the water horse because they find the existence of the water horse irritating for some reason. To prevent this, Angus calls out to the water horse and asks it to find a better place to hide so that no one will know exactly where it is. However, the water horse has gone wild because it thinks that Angus is that one hurting it. Angus is almost bitten by the water horse. The water horse goes back to where it is before, in the middle of the loch. The people are locating the water horse and getting ready to shoot it as soon as the water horse surfaces. At this very moment, another intense music is played to build up the situation that is full of tension. The light heavily relies on the thunderclap and the thunderbolt, and they, along with the black color background, make everything even tenser. It uses indirect subjective point of view from the water horse to show how the boat of these people looks from its indirect point of view. What the water horse does so as to survive is to capsize the boat of the people. Consequently, the people fall down. The water horse is trying to kill the people. The angle of the camera is low to show that the water horse is powerful and strong.

Climax


Angus sees the fight between the water horse and some people in the middle of the loch. The climax takes place when Angus decides to approach the water horse in the middle of the loch in hopes of getting the water horse to stop trying to kill people around it. The music played previously is still being played, and the closer it gets to the climax, the higher the volume at which the music is played. While he is getting closer to the water horse, he slips on a stone and ends up being nearly drown. It uses objective point of view and is low angle so as to get the point of view under the water and, at the same time, make Angus look as a weak character. By means of close-up shot, it can clearly be seen which stone Angus slips on and it also suggests that Angus is about to slips on a stone even before he does it. The steady camera is absolutely perfect as the main focus is on Angus’ feet. The lighting is still from the thunderclap as well as the thunderbolt so that the intense does not vanish. The rain adds more intense into the situation, and the camera takes the shallow focus to Angus’ feet. The black color helps increase the intensity. Fortunately, the water horse sees Angus sinking and goes straight to lift him up using its mouth. Angus has successfully made the water horse stop trying to kill people by wading into the lake. Surprisingly, the wildness of the water horse has gone away.


Falling Action
The intense has decreased at this point. All they have to do at this moment is to reach the point where there is a net made by other country as fast as they can. Otherwise, the net will be raised and they will be trapped in the loch. Unfortunately, they fail to make it, and the net is raised. They feel desperate for a while. The angle to the net is low angle and it uses tilting movement going from the low part to the high part of the net. The combination of both techniques makes the net look high and impossible to across. The music seems to be pathetic to show the desperation of the people. The point of view used is objective to get the angle where everybody can be seen in the screen. The water horse, which appears to have disappeared for a moment, can be seen swimming at very high speed. Everybody guesses that the water horse is about to jump over the next, and what they guess is absolutely correct. The water horse jumps over the next and, at the same time, crushes the net with its weight. Correspondingly, the net collapses, and crushes all the buildings to which the net is linked. The opponent country is presumed to have lost the war. The music played right after the water horse has successfully made the next collapsed sends the message of victory. The black color background seems to disappear to indicate that the problem has gone.

Resolution
Everybody, at this point, is going back since it is implied that the war is over. In the next morning, there are some camera shots to the loch. It is shown how quiet the loch is. The music played at this moment is a piece of slow music, and it uses steady camera. Smooth transitions are applied from one shot to another shot. The medium shot is to give a compromising distance to see the loch not too close, but not too far either. It uses soft blue background color. These are all to create the peaceful atmosphere as the war has ended. Angus and his mother are sitting together near the loch. The point of view used at this point is objective so as to show both of their facial expressions. They have a short conversation, and from the conversation, it can be inferred that Angus, who does not accept the death of his father in a war before, seems to have accepted it genuinely. Christie suggests that Angus and his mother should come quickly to the top of the hill where Christie is standing. On the hill, they are extremely pleased to see the water horse swimming peacefully. It takes a long shot to show the whole loch and the water horse swimming, and it takes the shallow focus on the water horse. Relaxing music is played to create a peaceful situation. It uses Angus’ subjective point of view to allow the audience to see the water horse swimming from Angus’ point of view. It also changes to objective point of view so that the joy in their faces can clearly be seen.


Characters


Angus MacMorrow is the main character in this movie. He plays the role as the protagonist. He actually has external conflict with his mother who does not allow him to have a pet. The appearance of this character is undoubtedly major as he is the main character. The development of this character, on the other hand, is static as there is no considerable change in both Angus’ character and Angus’ appearance. The side of this character is round because his attitude is different depending on whom he is talking to. He could be kind and polite to some people while being stubborn to some others. The costume Angus wears is old-fashioned as he grows up in 1940s. The costume does not look expensive as his family is financially adequate. He wears neatly enough, suggesting that he is a well-organized person. From his physical appearance, his skin is rather white and his height is approximately 150 centimeters. He is mentally strong, but his physic may not be as strong as his mental.
Water horse is also the main character of this movie; accordingly, its appearance is major. It seems to have no conflict in the beginning, but has some problem with people wanting to kill it. The development of this character is dynamic. It is tame in the beginning. As time passes by, it goes wild for several reasons. It then becomes tame again at the end. The side of the character is, for some reason, round. It is quite friendly to Angus and people it knows, but not really kind to people it does not recognize well enough. It appears to be weak in the beginning of the story. However, it gets stronger as the story progresses. Its physical appearance looks like the combination of giraffe and horse, and it reaches 2.5 meters in height. The color of its skin is soft pink in the beginning, but it changes to dark blue in the middle as well as at the end of the story. It wears no costume at all.

Another main character is Anne MacMorrow, who is Angus’ mother. She, as a matter of fact, has no conflict because she does not know that Angus, her son, owns a pet. Her appearance in this movie is major since she often appears in the story. The development is static. On the whole, she remains the way she is. The side of Anne is flat. She asserts thing firmly regardless of whether the person she is talking to has higher or lower status. She wears old-fashioned long skirt, and the way she dresses herself indicates that she is a caring mother despite her assertiveness. Her height is around 165 centimeters. The color of her skin is white.


Christie MacMorrow is Angus’ sister. Her appearance is minor as she does not appear in the movie as much as the main characters do. She has no conflict whatsoever. Her character and appearance barely change in the story; therefore, her development is static. She has a flat side, which means that her attitude towards everybody is the same. She is a polite and kind person. She wears costume that looks simple. From her physical appearance, it can be seen that his height it approximately 160 centimeters. Her physical appearance is most likely the same as girls at her age.


Lewis MowBray is another character whose appearance is minor because he is not often involved in the story. He does not have any conflict. His development is static as there is no change in his character as well as appearance. His side is flat, meaning that he behaves in a same manner towards everyone. The costume worn by him looks cheap as his profession is nothing more than a handyman. Bullet wound can be seen in his body. His appearance looks strong as he has relatively big muscles. He is about 170 centimeters in height.


The last character is Captain Hamilton. His role seems to be quite crucial and yet his appearance is minor. This is likely due to the main focus of the story is on Angus and the water horse, rather than on him. As his role is to be a captain, his only conflict is with opponent countries involved in a war. The development of this character is static because it is shown that nothing has really changed in his character and appearance as well. The captain does not show any different attitude when he is talking to different people; hence, the side of this character is flat. He wears his captain costume all the time. His physical appearance is much of typical captain who stands upright. His height is around 175 centimeters.

Point of view

The story uses the first person point of view because the story teller is Angus himself. The story actually begins with a tourist couple who want to know the history of water horse. There is an old man who tells the story to the couple. By the end of the story, the story teller reveals that he is actually Angus, the one who comes across the egg of water horse. The whole story is told in his point of view, and thus it uses the first person point of view. Despite the first person point of view, it is actually omniscient. The reason for this is that the story teller can tell the tourist couple about the moments that he is not even involved in. The narrator in this story is homodiegetic owing to the fact that the narrator is entirely involved in the story.

Setting


Place

The story, in fact, takes place in Scotland, particularly some places around the Loch Ness. The distance of the camera while introducing the place is long shot in order to show how peaceful and beautiful the loch looks from a far point of view. The movement of the camera is panning, which means it moves horizontally. Not only does it move horizontally, but also slowly, which conveys relaxedness. The angle taken is high angle. This is to give a clearer image of how big the loch is. The point of view is objective. The lighting is natural, showing warmth and adding more relaxedness. The music being played helps create such a relaxing atmosphere. It sometimes uses blue background color as the loch seems soothing.

Time

The story occurs in 1943 and is during the World War II. To create the atmosphere of past time, the color is enhanced in black and white. The old properties used are really helpful to deliver a past event.

Social

As a matter of fact, the social setting of this movie does not depict any strong social value. How everybody behaves in the story is not different from most people in the world. The social setting in this story is not much of a particular social setting.
Tone
The tone used by the narrator in this story is reflextive. This is essentially due to the fact that the story teller is Angus himself. He tells the story based on what the experiences he undergoes in the past. It is apparent that he tells the story as if he were being returned to the past. He tries to feel and reflect the moment that he is telling.
Themes
The theme of this story is about love and affection. This movie has successfully conveyed the message that anyone can feel love and give love to anyone. It is proven that Angus, a young boy, can show his love to a creature that he has never even seen before. His way of showing his love is by seeing to it. He encounters many difficulties and challenges while taking care of it. Nonetheless, he sticks to what he has promised, which is taking care of it.

Symbol
The symbol used in this story is water. Water symbolizes life as the water horse keeps looking for water to keep its skin wet. If it does not get in water for a certain period of time, its life is in jeopardy. Therefore, water is seen as the source of life.

Additional Information
The type of plot arrangement in this movie is chronological. Every part of the plot comes smoothly and is well arranged from the very beginning until the end of story. Notwithstanding the fact that the setting of the movie takes place in Scotland, most of the film was shot in Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand. The filmmakers simply finds that this place really resembles the Loch Ness in Scotland. The music played in this movie amazingly creates certain atmospheres.
The diction or vocabulary used in this movie is rather complicated to some extent. The story teller tells the whole story in simple past tense.

Closing

“Water Horse” is one of the best family movies. As of October 2010, the film has grossed a total of $103,071,443 worldwide owing to gaining approximately$40.4 million in the United States and approximately $62.1 million in other countries. This movie is a movie recommended to people looking for a perfect movie. The perfection is not only because it suits all people, but also because it has very great value of entertainment. The writer is aware of the imperfection of this analysis; therefore, any comment or critic is always warmly welcome.

 


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