Unlike most animated films, 'Watership Down' uses a lot of subtlety. Nothing is overdone. The music flows well, the pacing is smooth and the characters are real (rather than over the top). The animation is simplistic, created with watercolour and ink, giving it a gentle touch. It works effectively.
There story is cleverly layered and there's a lot of intriguing symbolism. The film never shies away from being brutally honest. It shows life the way it is: There's pain, there's death, there's suffering, there's determination and one needs to work hard to have the best of it, to survive. While many have complained that this is no movie for children, I think it depends more on the individual because this film is relevant for everyone. The violent scenes are a bit graphic and the sad scenes are moving but in the end it is uplifting.
There are very few novels that have been so fascinating on screen. 'Watership Down' is among them. It is a magnificently gripping adventurous tale. After 30 years it still remains a powerful story that strongly applies to today's world. I remember seeing it ages ago and then it was a must-have-on-DVD movie for me. I finally got the DVD and had the pleasure to watch revisit it today. A dazzling gem.