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DVD Reviews:  Watership Down (25th Anniversary Edition)

The Final Say!

Feature Score:
DVD Extras Score

Reviewed by Yianni Pak
Distributed by:
Big Sky Video
Running Time: 88 Minutes

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 is here. 

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 age. 

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 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. Recommended.

Watership Down Features

  • Audio Commentary

  • Theatrical Trailer

  • In Production Gallery

  • Premiere Night Gallery

  • Cast and Crew Biographies

  • “Rabbit Religion”

  • Real Watership Down Images

  • Rabbit Glossary


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