One of the film 'treats' of my childhood along with The Childcatcher, inside the Temple of Doom, the Chocolate Factory boat trip... and other minor horrors. Such is life (sort of). Useful experiences. Revisiting the film now I'm still struck by the brutal order of things. The novel's for-all-mankind anthropomorphic device translates with general fidelity and it's epic human themes are simply distilled.
Dark paganistic currents thrum in its furry belly. The earthy watercolours bring the tactile world of the rabbits to life. Despite the rumpled pugnaciousness of General Woundwort, I still find the fey, loping Cowslip to be the most disturbing bunny. Not quite as great as the magisterial 'Plague Dogs', but a compassionate and truly weird piece of British animation.
If we're going to bother to anthropomorphise animals, at least let's be honest and give them persecution complexes. Unfortunately the film doesn't really engage with the shift from rabbits against the world to rabbits against themselves; for all the talk of the tyranny of evil and that Immorton Joe wannabe, the content embraces a hierarchy of the natural world which echoes some of the ongoing conflict of humans...
What a fantastic film! 'Watership Down' is what movie-making is all about. Granted, it is based on a novel (of the same name by Richard Adams, I haven't read it so I can't speak to the quality of the interpretation), but this film accomplishes everything you would hope one would in bringing a novel to life. Scenic illustration littered with vividly expressionistic moments of grandeur tell the tale of Frith,...↓