Watership Down (1978)

Watership Down (1978)

1978 | PG | 88 Minutes

Adventure | Drama | Animation

When the warren belonging to a community of rabbits is threatened, a brave group led by Fiver, Bigwig, Blackberry and Hazel leave their homeland in a search of a safe new haven.

Overall Rating

7 / 10
Verdict: Good

User Review

  • **1000TH FILMFED REVIEW** Watership Down may look cute and fluffy, but don't be fooled. This animated adaptation of Adams' adventure drama is one that has sparked controversy over recent years, due to its certification. Many deemed its themes to be that of a horror film, where innocent rabbits are slaughtered with their lifeless bodies left soaking in their own blood. Perhaps its visceral imagery is not suitable for young audiences of today's generation, but back in 1978 it was clear that this was aimed towards adults. The story sees a warren of rabbits evacuating their burrow due to an apocalyptic vision that predicts their early demise by the hands of men. They journey through thick foliage, avoiding predators, to find a safe haven atop a hill.

    Rosen's screenplay takes the mature themes of Adams' novel and ensures these are always at the forefront. His direction is straight forward, although his writing is perhaps too obvious at times when addressing its not-so-subtle metaphor on the evils of man. Rapid urbanisation endangering the natural world. However the most likening quality of Watership Down is its similarities with war. The third act, mostly consisting of infiltrating and fleeing a totalitarian warren, resembles this. And quite often it is a bleak representation of death. The use of spiritualism and faith is one that drives these characters, particularly Fiver and Hazel. Yet I found these fluffy rabbits to never be as involving as they could've been. The personable qualities to differentiate between them were limited, and that hindered some of the inevitable death sequences. Depressing, but rarely emotionally distressing.

    The sweeping watercolours were gorgeous, and paints its rural landscape with such elegance. The addition of psychedelic colours during Fiver's visions enhanced the inventive use of its animated canvas. Hurt, Briers and Cox's voice acting were excellent and Garfunkel's "Bright Eyes" accompanied its visionary scene eloquently. It does take some time to adjust to the muffled voices though. Has it stood the test of time? I would say so. Is it accessible for everyone? Absolutely not.