Watership Down

Film

Family films

Watership Down

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5
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Time Out says

All one can say about this animated feature is thank God for myxomatosis. The book is another matter: once you've got past fey footnotes explaining that rabbits can count up to five, Richard Adams presents a good solid story, ingeniously and effectively told from the rabbit's minuscule perspective. Had the original director John Hubley been allowed to persevere, maybe some of the virtues would have remained; but as rejigged by producer Martin Rosen , there is nothing. The 'camera' takes a conventionally objective viewpoint, perpetually rolling over rolling countryside, which effectively robs the plot of all its terror and tension. And the bunnies are a crudely drawn, charmless bunch, with the final nail provided by the soundtrack's famous voices, who help turn the film into a radio play.

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Release details

UK release:

1978

Duration:

92 mins

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:7
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|7
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Oggatha C

The 5 stars are for the film 'Watership Down', not the critic.  Critics like GB tend to forget Hubley's style did not go beyond iconic abstraction (Gerald McBoing-Boing, Moonbird, Rooty Toot Toot); excellent for the mythic beginning of 'Watership Down' but not realistic enough for what the rest of the movie demanded.  If Martin Rosen's wisely chosen natural character designs are considered "crude" by this critic, then I can only say designs by Hubley would have seemed even cruder to a theater audience expecting something more lush than a limited TV animation style. 

 'Watership Down' was one of the best animated films to come out of the late '70's, bravely mixing environmental and spiritual themes while not condescending to children about the realities of life in the wild. This film is for children 8 yrs & up but definitely NOT for young toddlers. It is fairly faithful to the epic novel as much as an over hour & a half film can be.

The music of 'Watership Down' stands among the best soundtracks in the history of animated film, thanks to composer Angela Morley. 'Watership Down' has, officially or unofficially, become the 'Bambi' of Generation X & beyond.  This was why animation legend Chuck Jones bought much of the art from this movie as he could before he died.  He knew a modern classic when he saw it.

bolshy

This carping review entirely misses the heart of the film. This is a film for children which, unlike Disney, Pixar et al is prepared to portray the world as a savage, dark place. It is intensely moral, focussing on the temptations, and dangers of surrendering judgement and conscience to expediency. Having recently watched it again, this time as an adult, I can understand the comment above that the film has lost the book's gripping tension but it is perfectly pitched for robust pre-teens. I can personally attest to the tremendous impact that the film had on me - aged 8 - and a whole cinema of clearly affected children. By today's standards the animation is amateur, and the cutting involved in the transfer to the screen renders some of plot hard to follow, but its message shines brightly.

bolshy

This carping review entirely misses the heart of the film. This is a film for children which, unlike Disney, Pixar et al is prepared to portray the world as a savage, dark place. It is intensely moral, focussing on the temptations, and dangers of surrendering judgement and conscience to expediency. Having recently watched it again, this time as an adult, I can understand the comment above that the film has lost the book's gripping tension but it is perfectly pitched for robust pre-teens. I can personally attest to the tremendous impact that the film had on me - aged 8 - and a whole cinema of clearly affected children. By today's standards the animation is amateur, and the cutting involved in the transfer to the screen renders some of plot hard to follow, but its message shines brightly.

movie boff

I agree with Roper this movie is great. Definately an essential watch for families and growing up. I'm glad I watched this as a kid.

movie boff

I agree with Roper this movie is great. Definately an essential watch for families and growing up. I'm glad I watched this as a kid.

Roper

Oh my god - what a hatchet job. I mean the review not the film. I see it has made 25 in the Timeout 50 greatest animations so presumably not a view shared by all Timeout staffers. I have to admit to being intrigued enough by the reviewers comments to want to revisit the book. My own personal view has always been that this film is one of the very few examples of the film being superior to the book. My recollection of the book is of a rather dull plodding tale lacking any of the mad eyed inspiration of this movie (filled with end of the 60s paranoia as it is) and most significantly for a novel any kind of lyricism. In contrast the film is beautiful and frightening. I also can't agree with the reviewers assertion that the "'camera' takes a conventionally objective viewpoint" the opening fable is told in a different and appropriate style to the main story, later on we are treated to another drawing style when Fiver experiences visions, then another when a rabbit meets an untimeley end. Just because the majority of the film is animated in the style prevalent at the time hardly seems reason enough to lay into it on the grounds of lack of originality. A brilliant, original film that achieves that rarest achievement of being better than the book it is based on.

Roper

Oh my god - what a hatchet job. I mean the review not the film. I see it has made 25 in the Timeout 50 greatest animations so presumably not a view shared by all Timeout staffers. I have to admit to being intrigued enough by the reviewers comments to want to revisit the book. My own personal view has always been that this film is one of the very few examples of the film being superior to the book. My recollection of the book is of a rather dull plodding tale lacking any of the mad eyed inspiration of this movie (filled with end of the 60s paranoia as it is) and most significantly for a novel any kind of lyricism. In contrast the film is beautiful and frightening. I also can't agree with the reviewers assertion that the "'camera' takes a conventionally objective viewpoint" the opening fable is told in a different and appropriate style to the main story, later on we are treated to another drawing style when Fiver experiences visions, then another when a rabbit meets an untimeley end. Just because the majority of the film is animated in the style prevalent at the time hardly seems reason enough to lay into it on the grounds of lack of originality. A brilliant, original film that achieves that rarest achievement of being better than the book it is based on.