GenreComedy, Drama ScreenplayGavin Maxwell CountryUnited Kingdom
Release dateJanuary 1969 (1969-01)
18 June 1969 (1969-06-18) (New York City) Based onRing of Bright Water
by Gavin Maxwell WriterJack Couffer (screenplay), Bill Travers (screenplay), Gavin Maxwell (book) CastBill Travers (Graham Merrill), Virginia McKenna (Mary MacKenzie), Peter Jeffrey (Colin Wilcox), Jameson Clark (Storekeeper), Helena Gloag (Mrs. Flora Elrich), Willie Joss (Lighthouse keeper (as W.D. Joss)) Similar moviesUnder the Skin, Doors Open, Charlie & Louise - Das doppelte Lottchen, Brave, Braveheart, Finding Neverland
TaglineThe stars, the warmth, the pleasure of Born Free.
Ring of bright water frank cordell 1969
Ring of Bright Water is a 1969 British-American feature film starring Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna. It is a story about a Londoner and his pet otter living on the Scottish coast. The story is fictional, but is adapted from the 1960 autobiographical book of the same name by Gavin Maxwell. It 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 (1981) and to DVD (2002).
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 Johnny. Mij and Johnny 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 a significant amount 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 did not realize he was a pet. Merrill returns and is crushed to discover the death of his beloved otter. Some time later, Merrill and Mary are surprised by a trio of otter youngsters, accompanied by their mother otter, approaching the cottage. He happily realizes they are Mij's mate and their children who have come to play in their father's swimming pool.
Graham had been trying to write a novel on the Marsh Arabs for years; however, after seeing the baby otters playing, he takes pen and paper and begins to write about Mij and what the otter has taught him about himself.
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
Two Wisconsin otters owned and trained by Tom and Mabel Beecham of Phillips, Wisconsin portrayed Mij the otter.
Part of the film was shot in Ellenabeich on the Isle of Seil.
Reception and critical response
The film earned rentals of USD$1 million in North America and USD$1.4 million in other countries. After all costs were deducted it recorded an overall loss of USD$615,000.
The National Board of Review placed Ring of Bright Water on its list of the Top Ten Films for 1969. In 2005, The Daily Telegraph called it "one of the best-loved British films of all time."
Dell Comics published a comic book adaptation of the film drawn by Jack Sparling in October 1969.
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 was released to DVD in 2007.
The film was released as a region 2 DVD in 2002, and as a region 1 DVD in 2004 (see cover art). It had been released as a VHS tape in 1981 and 1991.