Ring of Bright Water
|Ring of Bright Water|
|Directed by||Jack Couffer|
|Produced by||Joseph Strick|
|Written by||Gavin Maxwell (book)
|Music by||Frank Cordell
|Editing by||Reginald Mills|
|Distributed by||Cinerama Releasing Corp.|
|Release date(s)||January 1969
June 18, 1969 (New York premiere)
|Running time||107 min.|
A British feature film starring Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna was also made. It is a story about a Londoner and his pet otter living on the Scottish coast. The film was based upon a 1960 autobiographical book of the same name by Gavin Maxwell, and featured the stars of Born Free, another movie about a close relationship between humans and a wild animal. The film has been released to VHS and DVD.
Background notes 
Maxwell's book describes how he brought a Smooth-coated Otter back from Iraq and raised it in 'Camusfeàrna' (Sandaig), on the west coast of Scotland. He took the otter, called Mijbil, to the London Zoological Society, where it was decided that this was a previously unknown subspecies, and it was named after him: Lutrogale perspicillata maxwelli. The book and film title was taken from a poem by Kathleen Raine, who said in her autobiography that Maxwell had been the love of her life.
Graham Merrill (Bill Travers) passes a pet shop on his daily walks about London and takes an interest in an otter (specifically, a male river otter) in the window, eventually buying and naming the animal Mij. The otter wreaks havoc in his small apartment and together they leave London for a rustic cottage overlooking the sea on the west coast of Scotland. There they live as beachcombers and make the acquaintance of Dr. Mary (Virginia McKenna) from the nearby village, and her dog Charlie. Mij and Charlie play in the water and bound across the fields together.
Mij's inquisitive and adventurous nature leads him some distance from the cottage to a female otter with whom he spends the day. Ignorant of danger, he is caught in a net and nearly killed. The humans find him and help him recover. Graham spends lots of time drawing Mij but realises that to show the true agility of the otter he must draw it underwater. He builds a large tank out of old windows so that he can do this.
Not long after, Merrill goes to London to look after some affairs and leaves Mary in charge of Mij. While being exercised afield, Mij is killed by a ditchdigger, who didn't realize he was a pet. Merrill returns and is crushed to discover the death of his beloved otter. Some time later, Merrill and Dr. Mary are surprised by a trio of otter youngsters, accompanied by their mother otter, approaching the cottage. He happily realizes they are Mij's female mate, and their children who have come to play in their father's swimming pool.
Cast and characters 
- Bill Travers as Graham Merrill
- Virginia McKenna as Mary MacKenzie
- Peter Jeffrey as Colin Wilcox
- Jameson Clark as Storekeeper
- Helena Gloag as Mrs. Flora Elrich
- W. D. Joss as Lighthouse keeper
- Roddy McMillan as Bus driver
- Jean Taylor-Smith as Mrs. Sarah Chambers
- Christopher Benjamin as Fishmonger
- Archie Duncan as Road mender
- Tommy Godfrey as Ticket seller
- Phil McCall as Frank
- The Otter Actually two Wisconsin Otters owned and trained by Tom and Mabel Beecham of Phillips, Wisconsin
The film earned rentals of $1 million in North America and $1.4 million in other countries. After all costs were deducted it recorded an overall loss of $615,000.
The 1995 documentary film Echoes of Camusfearna contains previously unseen footage of Gavin Maxwell with the otters and is introduced and narrated by Virginia McKenna. It has been released to DVD.
- Maxwell, Gavin (1960). Ring of Bright Water. Illustrated by Peter Scott, Michael Ayrton and Robin McEwen. London: Longmans, Green & Co. Ltd.
- Paperback reissue: (1984) ISBN 0-14-003923-6
- "ABC's 5 Years of Film Production Profits & Losses", Variety, 31 May 1973 p 3