Watership Down

Watership Down

4.4 26
Director: Martin Rosen

Cast: Martin Rosen, John Hurt, Richard Briers, Michael Graham Cox

     
 

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Unique in the annals of animated films, Watership Down is a serious, even grim tale that many will find relentless and depressing and others will find poetic and moving. It doesn't pull any punches. Death -- violent, disturbing death -- is ever present, portrayed in a manner that is astonishingly honest for a cartoon. As a result, it is that rare animated film

Overview

Unique in the annals of animated films, Watership Down is a serious, even grim tale that many will find relentless and depressing and others will find poetic and moving. It doesn't pull any punches. Death -- violent, disturbing death -- is ever present, portrayed in a manner that is astonishingly honest for a cartoon. As a result, it is that rare animated film that really aims for a mature audience, despite its superficial funny animal trappings. It has a brilliant opening, most likely created by UPA veteran John Hubley, which in a primitive and simplistic style relates a creation myth as told by rabbits. The style changes thereafter, with beautiful watercolor backgrounds and a more natural approach to character animation. Unfortunately, the animation suffers somewhat from this point, becoming a bit sloppy, although it continues to portray the characters' movements as realistically as possible. The character designs themselves are rather too similar, with the result that it is sometimes difficult to tell the various rabbits apart. The story is also sometimes told in too-broad strokes, leaving those unfamiliar with the novel confused as to exactly what has happened and, more importantly, why. However, these flaws are redeemed by some unforgettable sequences, including a chilling segment detailing the destruction of the rabbits' warren and a devastatingly sad end sequence in which the Black Rabbit of Death gently takes one of the heroes away with it. Voiced by a fine cast, with stellar work from John Hurt and Richard Briers, Watership Down is an imperfect film with some of the most powerful moments ever created for the genre.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Donald Liebenson
This unsung British gem, a 1978 animated version of the Richard Adams novel, is ripe for discovery. A distinguished voice cast -- including Ralph Richardson, John Hurt, Denholm Elliott, and Zero Mostel -- combines with captivating animation to bring the tale to life. The story concerns a group of rabbits who seek safe haven on high ground after leaving their endangered warren. A word of caution: This is not the "delightful" film "for all ages" that the box proclaims. It is a grim and often intense adventure in which the rabbits are at the mercy of animal predators, humans, and each other (in the form of the tyrannical General Woundwort and his minions). There is a goodly amount of blood spilled in several fight sequences. In short, it's not kid stuff, but for older children looking for more sophisticated animated fare, this is among the best non-Disney animated films ever made.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/07/2008
UPC:
0883929003525
Original Release:
1978
Rating:
G
Source:
Warner Home Video
Region Code:
1
Time:
1:32:00

Special Features

Watership Down: A Conversation With the Filmmakers - writer/director Martin Rosen and editor Terry Rawlings; Defining a Style: animators, artists and actor Joss Ackland collaborate on the creation of a Richard Adams character; Storyboard-to-screen multiangle comparison of 4 segments

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
John Hurt Hazel
Richard Briers Fiver
Michael Graham Cox Bigwig
John Bennett Capt. Holly
Simon Cadell Blackberry
Roy Kinnear Pipkin
Richard O'Callaghan Dandelion
Terence Rigby Silver
Ralph Richardson Chief Rabbit
Denholm Elliott Cowslip
Zero Mostel Kehaar
Mary Maddox Clover
Hannah Gordon Hyzenthlay
Lyn Farleigh Cat
Harry Andrews Gen. Woundwort
Nigel Hawthorne Campion
Joss Ackland Black Rabbit
Clifton James Blackavar
Michael Hordern Frith
Derek Griffiths Vervain

Technical Credits
Martin Rosen Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Mike Batt Songwriter
Marcus Dods Musical Direction/Supervision
Angela Morley Score Composer
Terry Rawlings Editor

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Watership Down
1. El-Aharirah; Prologue [3:49]
2. Landscape; Credits [1:52]
3. Fiver's Premonition [4:07]
4. Audience With the Chief Rabbit [2:32]
5. Fleeing the Warren; Captain Holly [2:19]
6. Eyes in the Night [2:24]
7. The River; Dodging Hrududu [3:29]
8. "Violet's Gone" [1:41]
9. Unwelcone At the Cemetery [1:59]
10. Cowslip's Warren [5:31]
11. Bigwig's Close Call [4:06]
12. Nuthanger Farm [3:51]
13. Survivor's Sport [2:55]
14. Holly's Dream [1:35]
15. Watership Down [4:28]
16. Kehaar's Offer of Help [2:06]
17. Trouble At the Farm [3:15]
18. Searching for Hazel [3:30]
19. Efrafa [1:51]
20. Bigwig Is Marked [5:04]
21. Plans of Escape and Entrapment [7:21]
22. Fleeing General Woundwort [4:24]
23. Kehaar's Farewell [1:05]
24. Bracing for Attack [2:38]
25. Hazel's Plan [5:02]
26. Big Wig Vs. Woundwort [3:13]
27. Summoned by the Black Rabbit [2:22]

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Watership Down 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
bookworm_451 More than 1 year ago
A wonderful movie! May be a little intense for younger viewers.
KiK280 More than 1 year ago
This film is tremendous.  I love that Criterion is finally adding quality animated films to The Collection.  I know Criterion had some animated films on laser disc but none on DVD/Blu-Ray until the release of "The Fantastic Mr. Fox."   This is a wonderful story of endurance and courage which both children and adults can relate to.  Still, as a parent, I would recommend watching it first to make sure your kids can handle it.  This is not a Disney film; there is danger and death around every corner in "Watership Down."  I had the advantage of having seen it several times prior so I knew what my kids could handle; but if you've never seen it before I would recommend watching it before showing it to kids.  The presentation and remastering of "Watership Down" is phenomenal.  Criterion really went all out for this release.  I really hope Criterion puts out a release of the second Martin Rosen/Richard Adams collaboration; "The Plague Dogs."  Thank you, Criterion, for this release; brilliant. 
joet37382013 More than 1 year ago
Best Animated Feature about Rabbits
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a book, Watership Down is a wonderful story of survival as seen from the eyes of its rabbit protagonists. These rabbits are not Thumpers a la Disney, but wild rabbits escaping developers. The characters are too adult, and some scenes too brutal for young children, but teens might enjoy an animated film that doesn't talk down to them. The animation (1978), while nice, is not state of the art, but then, this is a story driven film. The rabbits have their own terminology and mythology, which might escape the viewer unfamiliar with them, but they can make the ending quite uplifting. Viewers familiar with Tad Williams' Tailchaser's Song, or Felix Salten's Bambi in print might well enjoy this, but it's not a cute movie for young children.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An animated work of realism when realism is all but extinct from these line of films today. Exiled rabbits contend their survival against men, foxes, and their own in a land of blue streams and green clovers. The film picks the greatest moments of the text and soley delivers the brutal moments certainly leading Disney fans to cringe. While ''Watership Down'' could be the undiscovered ''Lion King'' in its own genre of animal drama, it will unceassingly scratch your mind throughout. The rabbit characters are drawn graceful enough to depict their darker instincts as creatures of fate.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i have searched for along time to find this video. i first saw this in 1979 (9 years old)and i have never forgotten the movie, just the name. very glad to have found it to show my children, gives a look at what really happens in nature. no fuzzy bunny slippers here.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Almost quarter of a century has passed, and still there has not been another animated movie to touch it. Period. Those who have only seen the cringeworthy TV series will find this a bit of a shock, but a highly pleasant one. Astonishing dark in places, yet not in the least unsuitable for children (whom may well find its lack of hypersensitivity a refreshing change), and likely to have them desperate to read the book immediately after.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is absoltely the best animated film ever made, and probably my favorite movie too. It does a wonderful job of making you feel connected to the characters, and still stirs my emotions and brings a tear to my eye. It features the beautiful Simon & Garfunkel song ''Bright Eyes'', and the visual portrail of the English countryside is realistic and gorgeous. Please note that this film may not be appropriate for young children, in that it deals with death in a very real fashion and contains some violence and blood.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Splended movie. It's book was very good too.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have watched it over and over. Excellent movie, the book was even better, I recommend it for children and adults! Saw it when I was a child, and still watch it as an adult.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is my all-time favorite movie and is the best of the best. My favorite character is Hazel-rah and Thlayli[known as Bigwig] and Hyzenthlay. I hope that the others saw the truth of nature in this film. Deffinantly waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better that any Harry Potter item
Guest More than 1 year ago
My mother brought this one home to me when I was seven (not knowing what it was) and I will never, ever forget the impression the beginning sequence made on me. Forget what the review says, this has some of the most beautiful animation I've seen in a 70's film and by far one of the most awesome and emotional musical scores. The only cartoon to make me cry every time I watch it - awesome whether you've read the book or not. (However, not really recommended for anyone under ten, as it is very intense/bloody in many parts).
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is a wonderful movie and book that everyone should enjoy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I watched this movie when I was about 15 with my parents and I found it absolutely unforgettable. There are some rather grusome scenes, but the story and the film are definitely awesome, and intended for older viewers.
EmrysIN More than 1 year ago
Watership Down is an amazing movie with beautiful artwork and a wonderful soundtrack. It also has some political tones, such as the highly militarized and totalitarian rival warren of Efrafa. However, interest in politics is not necessary to enjoy this film. I will say that this movie is not for young children. The original cover of the movie had the quote from the book, "If they catch you, they will kill you". Children that are sensitive may find certain sceens disturbing. Some examples are a rabbit that gets caught in a snare, a dog that tears apart several rabbits and one rabbit has some prophetic abilities and his visions can be a little creepy. The book was once banned because of the prophecy elements. Overall it's a great movie and an even better book, just be careful with young children.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm 19, turning 20 and had first seen Watership Down as a very young kid... My mother rented it because it was, of course, a cartoon. A cartoon that would give me nightmares for nights to follow... It takes a damn good cartoon to do that to a guy, young as I was..... I was in an unnamed video store earlier this year, looking through the classics and I spotted Watership Down... and yea, I rented it again. Still an amazing film. A film that need be compared to real life to see it's full complexity. I stand by the fact that because this film was involving rabbits, animation was the only true way to show it. But never class this one as ''just another cartoon''.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm 15, and Richard Adam's beautiful book 'Watership Down' has always been special for me since childhood. I was curious when I heard about a film adaptation, but worried that it was ruin the novel for me. It didn't. Far from it - this is an equally beautiful film that totally solidified my visualization of the book. There's a fair bit of blood and violence, which some younger viewers might find disturbing, but the film also promotes peace, loyalty and a love of nauture. A must-see film for the whole family.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful tale about a band of rabbits crossing the english countryside. The story illustrates the things that are a part of everyday life, such as friendship and death. The music and animation are absolutely beautiful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Beautiful animation. The book from which the movie is adapted is one of the best stories I have ever read. A great deal of the book is left out of the film, but the essence of the story is fully intact. If you are looking for a complex, mature animated feature, this is for you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm 12 years old. I saw this movie when I was 11. I remember thinking; O.k, this was definatley not made by Disney! It has some blood in it, as well as some violence. It is a sad but WONDERFUL movie about a band of male rabbits that flee from their warren because of an unknown danger. The movie would devistate kids about 5-7 years old, and scare those that are younger. This is still a very touching movie, and I would recomend it to every one who can handle it.