Waterland (1992)

R | 95 mins | Drama | 30 October 1992

Director:

Stephen Gyllenhaal

Writer:

Peter Prince

Cinematographer:

Robert Elswit

Editor:

Lesley Walker

Production Designer:

Hugo Luczyc-Wyhowski

Production Companies:

Palace Pictures, Fine Line Features, Pandora Cinema
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HISTORY

The film opens with the scene in which middle-aged “Tom Crick” discovers that his wife, “Mary Crick,” has stolen a baby from the supermarket and claimed the child as her own. The events of Tom and Mary’s youth are presented in flashback as Tom, a high school teacher in 1974 Pittsburgh, PA, regales his students with an account of his English family history. In some scenes, Tom’s students are portrayed as if on a “field trip” where they are able to experience past events as he describes them. Tom’s narrative is frequently interrupted by Ethan Hawke’s character, “Matthew Price,” which brings the story back to the present day.
       End credits include the following acknowledgments: “Cartoon footage courtesy of Nelvana Enterprises Inc., ‘Carebears’ program © 1987 Nelvana Ltd., ‘Carebears’ character™ & © Those Characters from Cleveland, All rights reserved”; “Shop ‘N Save is a registered trademark of Super Valu Stores, Inc., Eden Prairie, Minnesota.”; “‘Execution of Marie-Antoinette’, Danish School, © Bridgeman Art Library Ltd.”; and, “Filmed on location in Pittsburgh, USA, in East Anglia and London, England and at Twickenham Film Studios, London.”
       ”Special thanks” are given to: “Andrew Mickleburgh; Gordon Stalker; Peter Vile; Amanda Burgess, Felim Dunne; Dr. Joan Halloran; Bob Gill; Lucas Church; Ann Adler; Carolyn Jackson; Anne Sheehan; Robert Curran; Nigel Palmer; Lakenheath High School; Southbank International School; National Rivers Authority, Spalding; Inland Drainage Board, Holbeach; Royal Society for the Protection of Birds; Francis Russell, Norfolk Naturalists Trust; Village of Walsingham, Norfolk; Pittsburgh Film Office; City of Pittsburgh; Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety Bureau of Police; Atlantic Business Supplies; Sprowston Manor Hotel, Norwich; The Hampshire Hotel, London.”
       Cast credits misspell the surname of Sean Maguire as “McGuire.”
       ... More Less

The film opens with the scene in which middle-aged “Tom Crick” discovers that his wife, “Mary Crick,” has stolen a baby from the supermarket and claimed the child as her own. The events of Tom and Mary’s youth are presented in flashback as Tom, a high school teacher in 1974 Pittsburgh, PA, regales his students with an account of his English family history. In some scenes, Tom’s students are portrayed as if on a “field trip” where they are able to experience past events as he describes them. Tom’s narrative is frequently interrupted by Ethan Hawke’s character, “Matthew Price,” which brings the story back to the present day.
       End credits include the following acknowledgments: “Cartoon footage courtesy of Nelvana Enterprises Inc., ‘Carebears’ program © 1987 Nelvana Ltd., ‘Carebears’ character™ & © Those Characters from Cleveland, All rights reserved”; “Shop ‘N Save is a registered trademark of Super Valu Stores, Inc., Eden Prairie, Minnesota.”; “‘Execution of Marie-Antoinette’, Danish School, © Bridgeman Art Library Ltd.”; and, “Filmed on location in Pittsburgh, USA, in East Anglia and London, England and at Twickenham Film Studios, London.”
       ”Special thanks” are given to: “Andrew Mickleburgh; Gordon Stalker; Peter Vile; Amanda Burgess, Felim Dunne; Dr. Joan Halloran; Bob Gill; Lucas Church; Ann Adler; Carolyn Jackson; Anne Sheehan; Robert Curran; Nigel Palmer; Lakenheath High School; Southbank International School; National Rivers Authority, Spalding; Inland Drainage Board, Holbeach; Royal Society for the Protection of Birds; Francis Russell, Norfolk Naturalists Trust; Village of Walsingham, Norfolk; Pittsburgh Film Office; City of Pittsburgh; Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety Bureau of Police; Atlantic Business Supplies; Sprowston Manor Hotel, Norwich; The Hampshire Hotel, London.”
       Cast credits misspell the surname of Sean Maguire as “McGuire.”
       The 27 Aug 1991 HR announced that Jeremy Irons had been signed to star in a motion picture adaptation of Graham Swift’s 1983 novel, Waterland, written by first-time screenwriter Peter Prince. A 13 May 1991 DV article noted that Nicolas Roeg was rumored to direct. The project was the maiden theatrical endeavor of Pandora Cinema, the Los Angeles, CA-based feature film branch of Pandora Group, following the division’s formation in Jan 1991. A 24 Oct 1991 DV article stated that Waterland was also one of the first two projects to be domestically released through New Line Cinema’s New York City division, Fine Line Features. The film was expected to screen at the Cannes Film Festival in May 1992, even though U.K. and worldwide distribution rights had already been acquired by Palace Pictures and Pandora Cinema, respectively.
       The 27 Aug 1991 HR stated that Judy Davis was interested in the role of Irons’s onscreen wife, Mary Crick, but Miranda Richardson was cast instead.
       The 16 Sep 1991 Var noted that principal photography began that day. British locations included Twickenham Film Studios in London, England, and the Fens district of East Anglia. A 5 Oct 1992 story from the Kent Film Office website stated that Doddington Place, a Victorian manor near Faversham, Kent, stood in for “Tom Crick’s” ancestral home.
       Partway into production, the 1 Nov 1991 Screen International announced that Richardson had been replaced by Irons’s real-life wife, Sinéad Cusack. According to the 5 Oct 1992 issue of Time magazine, director Stephen Gyllenhaal instructed Cusack to temporarily separate from Irons and move into a hotel room for the duration of filming. With Cusack in the role, production moved to Pittsburgh on 3 Nov 1991 for an additional five days of shooting.
       According to the 12—19 Aug 1992 Time Out (London), Gyllenhaal was responsible for changing the story’s secondary setting from Greenwich, England, to Pittsburgh. Although the decision surprised British producer Katy McGuinness, Gyllenhaal stated that it was a “commercial consideration” made to broaden the film’s appeal for American audiences.
       The 18 Nov 1991 HR reported the completion of production after eight weeks of filming. Contemporary sources estimated production costs varying between $6 million and $10 million.
       Time Out indicated that Waterland opened first in London on 21 Aug 1992. A 14 Aug 1992 HR article announced that the film’s North American premiere was scheduled to take place at the Festival of Festivals in Toronto, Canada, between 10—19 Sep 1992, and the 2 Nov 1992 DV included Waterland as one of seven films to screen in competition at the Third Festival of British Film at Dinard in Brittany, France, between 24—27 Sep 1992. An event program in AMPAS library files indicated that the film also played at the Mill Valley Film Festival on 8 Oct 1992.
       According to the 16 Nov 1992 DV box-office report, the film opened in four theaters on 30 Oct 1992 before expanding to seventy-eight theaters on 6 Nov 1992. Domestic earnings totaled $232,651 for the first ten days of release. Although convinced that the novel’s “unfilmable” story could not be easily translated to a cinematic medium, several critics praised Irons’s and Cusack’s performances.
       Waterland marked the feature film debuts of actresses Lena Headey and Maggie Gyllenhaal. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
13 May 1991.
---
Daily Variety
24 Oct 1991
p. 1, 14.
Daily Variety
2 Nov 1992.
---
Daily Variety
16 Nov 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Nov 1991
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Aug 1991
p. 1, 8.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Aug 1992
p. 4, 35.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Oct 1992
p. 6, 10.
Los Angeles Times
6 Nov 1992
Calendar, p. 8.
New York Times
30 Oct 1992
Section C, p. 14.
Screen International
21 Jun 1991.
---
Screen International
1 Nov 1991.
---
Time
5 Oct 1992.
---
Time Out (London)
12-19 Aug 1992
p. 28.
Variety
16 Sep 1991.
---
Variety
24 Aug 1992
p. 34, 62.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Palace and Fine Line Present
in association with Pandora Cinema and Channel Four Films
and with the participation of British Screen
A Palace Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
3d asst dir
3d asst dir
2d asst dir, USA crew
2d 2d asst dir, USA crew
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Focus puller
Clapper loader
Cam dept trainee
Underwater cam
Stills photog
Gaffer
Best boy
Elec
2d asst cam, USA crew
Key grip, USA crew
Best boy grip, USA crew
3d grip, USA crew
Gaffer, USA crew
Best boy elec, USA crew
3d elec, USA crew
Stills photog, USA crew
Lighting equip
Lighting equip (USA)
Negative grader
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dept asst
Art dept junior
Asst art dir, USA crew
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
2d asst ed
Ed asst (USA)
Ed equip
Ed facilities and equip (USA)
SET DECORATORS
Prod buyer
Prop master
Prop storeman
Dressing props
Dressing props
Stand-by props
Stand-by props
Const mgr
Stand-by carpenter
Stand-by rigger
Stand-by painter
Stand-by stagehand
Diver rigger
Dec/buyer, USA crew
Prop master, USA crew
Carpenter, USA crew
Props asst, USA crew
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst to cost des
Ward supv
Ward supv
Ward asst
Ward supv, USA crew
Ward asst, USA crew
Cost supplied by
Cost supplied by
Mr Irons' ward by
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus supv
Mus contractor
SOUND
Boom op
Dial ed
Foosteps and eff ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Re-rec mixer
ADR mixer
ADR crowd
Foley artist
Foley artist
Boom op, USA crew
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup/Hair artists
Makeup/Hair artist
Makeup/Hair asst, USA crew
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting dir (UK)
Casting dir (US)
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Prod coord
Prods' asst
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Addl prod coord
Asst loc mgr (London)
Loc asst (Fens)
Addl casting
Casting asst
Casting asst
Unit nurse
Dir's asst
Prod runner
Jobfit trainee (Prod)
Jobfit trainee (Art dept)
Jobfit trainee (Sd)
Mr. Irons' driver
Unit driver
Unit driver
Unit driver
Unit prod mgr, USA crew
Prod coord, USA crew
Asst auditor, USA crew
Loc mgr, USA crew
Asst loc, USA crew
Transport coord, USA crew
Transport capt, USA crew
Elec truck driver, USA crew
Cam truck driver, USA crew
Makeup/Hair/Ward driver
Driver, USA crew
Cast driver, USA crew
Office P.A., USA crew
Runner, USA crew
Set P.A., USA crew
Set P.A., USA crew
Set P. A., USA crew
Craft service P.A., USA crew
Casting (Pittsburgh), USA crew
Casting (Extras), USA crew
Casting (Extras), USA crew
Action vehicles
Catering
Transport and facilities
Transport and facilities
Transport (USA)
Pub consultants
Deals closed by
Prod finance provided by
Financial consultants
Completion guarantor
Mr Irons' car supplied by
STAND INS
Stunt double
Mr. Irons' stand-in
COLOR PERSONNEL
Colour dupes
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based upon the novel Waterland by Graham Swift (New York, 1983).
AUTHOR
SONGS
“Picture Of Your Daddy,” performed by Karen Tobin, written by Mark Fosson, published by No Time Publishing and Big Otis Music, recording courtesy Atlantic Recording Corp., by arrangement with Warner Special Products.
PERFORMER
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
30 October 1992
Premiere Information:
Toronto Festival of Festivals North American premiere: mid-September 1992
New York opening: 30 October 1992
Los Angeles opening: 6 November 1992
Production Date:
16 September--mid November 1991
Copyright Claimant:
New Line Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
26 March 1993
Copyright Number:
PA607363
Physical Properties:
Sound
Spectral Recording Dolby Stereo in Selected Theatres
Color
Duration(in mins):
95
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In search of a new life, Tom and Mary Crick move from England to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Tom works for twenty years as a high school history teacher. During a class one day in 1974, a student named Matthew Price defiantly challenges Tom’s lesson, demanding he explain the everyday relevance of studying eighteenth-century French history. Flustered, Tom ends the lesson and decides to fill the remaining class time with stories of his youth growing up in the Fens, a marshy region of Eastern England, during World War II. After the death of his mother, Tom lived in a riverside cottage with his father and mentally handicapped brother, Dick, who worked as a dredger. Eliciting giggles from some of the students, Tom recalls his teenage courtship with Mary, and describes their secret trysts onboard an empty train carriage. As the young lovers grew closer, Mary confesses a hesitant curiosity about Tom’s brother Dick, noting his obvious interest in her ever since he saw her skinny-dipping with Tom’s friends. Insisting Dick is harmless, Tom suggests Mary try to befriend him. Soon after, Mary approaches Dick fishing on the riverbank for eels. Reminding him of the day he saw her in her underwear, she coaxes him to swim toward her, and they frolic together in the water. As Tom elaborates on the history of his prewar ancestors, Matthew interrupts, criticizing the teacher’s transparent efforts to relay historical events through his own personal anecdotes. Persistent, Tom continues by explaining that his maternal grandfather, Ernest Atkinson, owned a prestigious brewery in the early twentieth century. On the day of King George V’s coronation, Ernest distributed a batch of extremely potent beer that sent the ... +


In search of a new life, Tom and Mary Crick move from England to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Tom works for twenty years as a high school history teacher. During a class one day in 1974, a student named Matthew Price defiantly challenges Tom’s lesson, demanding he explain the everyday relevance of studying eighteenth-century French history. Flustered, Tom ends the lesson and decides to fill the remaining class time with stories of his youth growing up in the Fens, a marshy region of Eastern England, during World War II. After the death of his mother, Tom lived in a riverside cottage with his father and mentally handicapped brother, Dick, who worked as a dredger. Eliciting giggles from some of the students, Tom recalls his teenage courtship with Mary, and describes their secret trysts onboard an empty train carriage. As the young lovers grew closer, Mary confesses a hesitant curiosity about Tom’s brother Dick, noting his obvious interest in her ever since he saw her skinny-dipping with Tom’s friends. Insisting Dick is harmless, Tom suggests Mary try to befriend him. Soon after, Mary approaches Dick fishing on the riverbank for eels. Reminding him of the day he saw her in her underwear, she coaxes him to swim toward her, and they frolic together in the water. As Tom elaborates on the history of his prewar ancestors, Matthew interrupts, criticizing the teacher’s transparent efforts to relay historical events through his own personal anecdotes. Persistent, Tom continues by explaining that his maternal grandfather, Ernest Atkinson, owned a prestigious brewery in the early twentieth century. On the day of King George V’s coronation, Ernest distributed a batch of extremely potent beer that sent the local population into a drunken rampage. The brewery was detonated in the riot, and only one crate of Ernest’s special brew was salvaged and left to be passed down to his heir. One evening, Tom has dinner with school principal Lewis Scott, who disapproves of Tom’s recent teaching methods and threatens that history classes may soon be merged with the social studies curriculum. Although Tom resumes the normal lesson plan, he quickly derails to his stories, picking up his tale where he left off: Following the war, Ernest descends into madness, and the brewery is converted into a mental institution for World War I veterans. Tom’s mother, Helen, trains to become a nurse, and her sudden reclusiveness during this time sparks several rumors around town. Helen also begins a relationship with a patient named Henry, who later became Tom’s father. Just before her death from influenza, Helen gives Dick the key to Ernest’s trunk containing the last crate of the potent coronation ale. Meanwhile, at age sixteen, Mary becomes pregnant with Tom’s child. Tom immediately denies responsibility, and accuses her of indulging in her fascination with Dick by having sex with him. Although Mary attempted to teach Dick about intercourse, she claims they were unable to perform the act. Hoping to keep Tom’s paternity a secret, Mary tells Dick that their childhood friend, Freddie Parr, is the father. The next morning, Freddie’s body is found floating in the river. Although coroners rule the death as accidental, Mary remains burdened by guilt and considers harming herself in an attempt to abort the fetus. Tom later finds an empty bottle of coronation ale and realizes that Dick was responsible. After confronting his brother and admitting the truth, Dick shows Tom a deathbed letter from their mother, which he cannot read. Tom discerns that Dick is the result of an incestuous relationship between Helen and their grandfather, Ernest. Distraught, Dick guzzles several bottles of the beer and seeks refuge on the dredge boat. Despite the family’s attempts to save him, Dick strips naked, dives into the river, and drowns. Deciding they cannot keep the child, Tom takes Mary to an elderly gypsy woman who agrees to perform an abortion. The procedure destroys Mary’s uterus and leaves her barren. Horrified, Tom flees the woman’s hut and collapses into a sobbing heap in the mud. Upon his return to the hut, the old woman hands him a bucket and instructs him to throw the fetus into the ocean. Once married, Tom and Mary eventually move to Pittsburgh to escape their problems. Troubled by her inability to conceive a child, Mary grows increasingly unstable and one day tells Tom that she has miraculously become pregnant. His concern for her delusion deepens when she shares the news with his colleagues at a dinner party. Embarrassed, he quickly covers the announcement with a lie. One evening, Tom returns home to find Mary tending to a crying baby boy. She presents the child as Tom’s son, claiming that God has forgiven them for past sins. When he questions her, she admits she stole the baby from an inattentive shopper at the local supermarket. Tom drives them back to the store, where they declare that they found the baby outside the high school. Beside herself, Mary bursts into tears, and Tom suggests she seek counseling. They reconcile, but Mary leaves him a week later. When he recounts this story to his students, Tom is forced to resign to avoid scandal. Although Matthew is underage, Tom invites him for a drink. The boy apologizes for encouraging his peers to report him, realizing now that the stories were not just educational lessons for the students, but also a cathartic release for their teacher. The next morning, Tom speaks at a school assembly to announce his “early retirement,” and explains his love of history. Sometime later, he rides a train through the English countryside and imagines his younger self sitting with Mary in an adjacent carriage. He returns to his home in the Fens, where he sees Mary walking alone through the now arid fields, and begins to follow her. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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