Waterland (film)

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Waterland (film).jpg
Directed byStephen Gyllenhaal
Written byGraham Swift (novel)
Peter Prince (screenplay)
Produced byPatrick Cassavetti
Katy Mcguinness
StarringJeremy Irons
Sinéad Cusack
Ethan Hawke
John Heard
CinematographyRobert Elswit
Edited byLesley Walker
Music byCarter Burwell
Palace Pictures
Fine Line Features
Pandora Cinema
Channel Four Films
British Screen Productions
Distributed byPolyGram Filmed Entertainment (United Kingdom)
Fine Line Features (United States)
Release date
  • August 21, 1992 (1992-08-21)
  • September 12, 1992 (1992-09-12)
  • October 30, 1992 (1992-10-30)
Running time
95 minutes
CountriesUnited States
United Kingdom
Box office$1,100,218[1]

Waterland is a 1992 British mystery drama film directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal and starring Jeremy Irons, Sinéad Cusack, Ethan Hawke and John Heard. It is based on Graham Swift's 1983 novel of the same name.

The film moved the contemporary location from England to Pittsburgh and eliminated many of the extensive historical asides.


The film follows the story of an anguished English-born Pittsburgh high school teacher (Irons) in 1974 going through a reassessment of his life. His method is to narrate his life to his class and interweave three generations of his family's history. The film portrays the history teacher's narrative in the form of flashbacks to tell the story of a teenage boy and his mentally challenged older brother living in The Fens of England with their widowed father. In an opening scene the teacher's childless wife (Cusack) takes a child from a supermarket and believes it to be hers. The teacher explains to his class how he and his wife had a teenage romance which led to a disastrous abortion that left her infertile. The teacher is tortured by the guilt of this as well as the jealousy he demonstrated to his older brother when he suspected his girlfriend's child was his brother's. The girl's flirtation with the older brother sets off events that lead to the older boy's death by drowning. A side-theme is the teacher's grandfather, who was a successful brewer and who fathered with his daughter the narrator's older brother. The film ends with the teacher's dismissal from his school and a possible renewal of his relationship with his wife.



The film was one of the first two co-productions by Fine Line Features, a subsidiary of New Line Cinema.[2]

The film was shot in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as well as parts of the UK including East Anglia, London and at Twickenham Film Studios.[3] Part of the film was filmed at Doddington Place Gardens, near Faversham. The Victorian mansion was used as the ancestral home to Tom Crick.[4]


  1. ^ "Waterland (1992) - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2010-01-25.
  2. ^ Eller, Claudia (Oct 24, 1991). "Fine Line Features Enters Coprod'n Arena Via 2 Pix". Daily Variety. p. 1.
  3. ^ Waterland at the American Film Institute Catalog
  4. ^ "Waterland (1992)". kentfilmoffice.co.uk. Retrieved 16 May 2013.

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