Tuesday, March 22, 2016

SS United States Silver Screen Review: The Water Horse (2007)

"A True Tale It Is..."
         - opening words on the screen, The Water Horse

I honestly was not looking forward to watching this movie. The trailers didn't do anything for me when it was in theaters in 2007. So here goes.

The story?
Boy named Angus is forced to overcome his fear of large bodies of water by almost drowning from riding a CGI water dinosaur. Said dinosaur causes a Nazi scare in the Loch, after which it jumps out of harm's way over an iron net wall, a-la-Free Willy.

The movie is set in Scotland at the Loch Ness during World War II, 1942 to be exact. So why does this movie have anything to do with the SS United States, a ship built in 1952?

Well, during a montage of Angus' mother in the groundskeepers' workshop, sadly looking around at her sons' things, one of the shelves has a small model of, what do you know, the SS United States!

Screenshot from The Water Horse (2007)

I got things to say, so let's break this down:

This movie could have chosen any famous, classic British liner (many were made in shipyards in Scotland), and they choose an American one? Nothing against the Big U, I'm sure it has its Scottish lovers, but not my first choice for setting the scene.

Is the model the SS America, or the SS United States? The SS America would make the most sense time-wise. The ship's maiden voyage was in 1940, so it is entirely valid of Angus to own a model of the ship. But is it really the ship? The America and United States had many similarities, but were not the same. Look at the bottom of the funnels. The America had a few white pipes and such poking out of it. The SS United States has white walls hugging the back of its funnels. America's funnels were also more forward to the bow, while SSUS's are in the middle of the ship. The funnels on the model are in the middle, with white walls hugging the back of the bottom of the funnels. It's definitely the Big U.

So it's an anachronism, right? A boat from 1952 used in a movie set in 1942? Actually, probably not. You see, this movie played a lot with history and geography, which has led me to believe it is in an alternate universe. It's similar to our own universe, but not the same. In this movie, Loch Ness is directly connected to the British Channel via a wide opening (Loch Ness isn't, and is above sea level). In this wide opening, there is an iron net, which can be raised to block Nazi subs from entering into the Loch from the Channel (never built). The famous black and white photograph of the Loch Ness Monster is taken at the end of the movie in 1942 (it was actually shot in 1934). So, in this weird alternate universe, maybe the SS United States already exists??

Movie: Did not care for it. Loch Ness Monster needs a reboot like Spiderman. 1/4
SS United States: you see a 3-5 second shot of a probably CGI model of a ship. 1/4

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