Ahh, the joys of childhood.
Playing teeball, learning your seven times table, and watching cute fluffy
bunnies tearing each other’s throats out. Oh to be young again now that spring
The point of this sarcastic
introduction? If your kids are really young, don’t show them this film. Yes,
it is a fabulous movie on a great DVD but some of the imagery might be a
little disturbing for the tiny tots. Older children won’t have any problems
with it, but the wee ones might be a little upset by some scenes.
Wild rabbits lead a precarious
life, if Watership Down is anything to go by. In fact, if the prologue of the
flim is to be believed then nearly everything with more than one leg and a
central nervous system presents a mortal danger to our lovable fluffy friends.
It’s probably a fact that indeed rabbits ARE constantly under threat of being
consumed by larger and considerably more scary animals. Poor little buggers.
When runt-of-the-litter Fiver
has a premonition of blood all over the fields, he begs his brother Hazel to
appeal to the Rabbit leader to move out of the warren that this colony of
bunnies is currently occupying. This request is met with scorn, so Fiver,
Hazel, and a handful of other intrepid rabbits embark on a quest for greener,
and safer, pastures.
What follows is a fantastic
journey, shown to us entirely from a rabbit’s perspective, across the
countryside of rural England as the floppy-eared explorers seek out a new
home. They face all manner of danger in the form of hawks, farm dogs, cats,
humans, rabbit snares, and indeed an evil, vicious and remarkably violent
community of rabbits led by the beautifully despicable General Woundwort.
It has to be said that the
animation has aged somewhat, although the more surreal sequences such as the
introduction still hold the same appeal that they always did. Watership Down
was released in 1978 and by today’s standards it does look rather dated. This
doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the film, however, so it is hardly worth
worrying about. The voice-acting is perfect and injects every character with
loads of personality. This movie has it all, drama, action, suspense, sorry,
laughs, even a bit of gore, and is worth watching by people of almost any
There are a lot of enjoyable
extra bits and bobs on offer here. Most interesting is an audio commentary
track which is essentially a recording of an interview between Filmthreat.com
editor Chris Gore and writer/director/producer Martin Rosen. It has a LOT of
interesting info on the film – one factoid I recall is that the introductory
animation was based on old Australian aboriginal art, which I’m sure many
Australians would have already suspected. In addition to this, there is a
theatrical trailer, some image galleries, and a text-based “rabbit glossary”
and feature on “rabbit religion”.
A lot of love and hard work
appears to have been put into this DVD release, which is no less than the film
itself deserves. It is a sweet and moving story, well crafted and well
animated too (for it’s time, at least). A film to suit almost any audience.