Written and Directed By: Martin Rosen
Based On the Novel By: Richard Adams
Staring: John Hurt, Richard Briers, Michael Graham Cox, Ralph Richardson, and John Bennett
All the world will be your enemy, Prince of a Thousand enemies. And when they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you; digger, listener, runner, Prince with the swift warning. Be cunning, and full of tricks, and your people will never be destroyed. -Black Rabbit
A group of rabbits flee their doomed warren and face many dangers to find and protect their new home.
Because of Watership Down filmmakers like Pixar exist today. Watership Down was one of the first of it’s kind to have a beautiful score, exciting animation, a sweet story for children, and a very adult themed script for adults. There is a subtle nuance that reflects obvious moments in history through the seemingly one dimensional tale of the warren and the open shots often mirror a battlefield. With voice overs by John Hurt and Richard Briers there is a definite eloquence added to the dialogue of our rabbits.
While this has an absolute appeal to children there is a considerable amount of violence and darkness that is not ignored. A very young audience may be frightened or not understand it’s inclusion. There is a certain maturity about the story that was conveyed in Richard Adams novel that Rosen transferred poignantly onscreen. The epic feel of the story still has a very resolving appeal to children, and the eye candy of the animation will draw them in.
The somber tone of the story lingers in the back round and only occasionally becomes a forefront in the story. There is a very textured feel to the way the animation is incorporated with the score and the script. By the finale it’s clear the ambition of Martin Rosen was a success. The adventure of the tale mixed with the humanity makes this an unforgettable piece of cinema.
I believe I enjoyed this one better as an adult than as a child, but as a child I loved it as well. It’s dark overtones were appealing at both ages, because the story and it’s execution is so incredibly gripping. There is a sweetness and darkness that mix with each other, but also find a well needed balance. There is just something that grabs you in this one, and you can’t turn away. Watership Down is a visually pleasant and intellectually resounding film that will remain with you.