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Excellent animated film--more for older children and adults
preppy-36 September 2006
British animated film about a bunch of rabbits leaving their old warren (which one psychic rabbit can tell is going to be destroyed) and searching for a new one. The movie recounts their adventures searching for one.

It may sound like a movie ideal for little kids--but it really isn't. It's an excellent adaptation of Richard Adams book which was written more for teenagers and adults. It's an ecological tale of how men are destroying the earth and (inadvertently it seems) killing innocent wildlife. It's also a very interesting story about how a group of rabbits survive on their own.

The animation is excellent--right up there with Walt Disney. The score is great, the script intelligent and the voices used perfectly match the characters. However, as I said, this isn't really for little kids. The story is dead serious and the only humor is provided by the bird Kehaar (who I personally found very annoying although Zero Mostel DOES have fun with the voice). Also, at the end, it gets very violent and quite bloody. When I saw it in a theatre in 1978 one small kid was in tears by the conclusion. So, use your own judgment but I would never let a small kid see this. This is perfect for teenagers and adults. A 10.
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The greatest adaptation ever...
midnightrane20 November 2001
I would never spoil the wonder that is "Watership Down". The book and the film are timeless classics. I think it is the greatest adaptation of a novel (any genre) ever made and one of the most under-rated movies of all-time. They managed to capture more of a long novel (nearly 500 fantastic pages) than most films can compile from a 200 page source work. The soundtrack is beautiful (I'll be getting one for a Christmas present--thanx for the info IMDb!!) and matches the mood of the scenes perfectly.

Viewers will recognize someone they know in nearly every rabbit and, with unbiased observation, probably see themselves. It is at once gripping and gentle, heart-rending and endearing. You will find yourself humming the tunes incessantly for months afterward. I recommend reading the book first (also try "Traveler" by Adams, another classic), then purchasing the film, then the soundtrack--wait, better yet, write your Congressman and demand a DVD release. I long for another wide-screen viewing (hint, hint)!

I have noticed multiple comments that state the movie is too violent for children (it is somewhat graphic--to it's credit). For very small children, I would whole-heartedly agree, however, I think it depends on the individual. I was lucky enough to have a Father who took me to see it at the theatre when I was a youngster (about 5) and it did not scar me or give me nightmares--rather I learned the importance of the symbiotic circle of existence and the reality and necessity of life and death. It is still a comfort to me in times of sadness. In addition, the movie is highly layered and something new can be gleaned with nearly every viewing.

I enjoyed it for years and only later realized many people had never even heard of it...I take every opportunity to recommend it and not once, not once, have I heard anything but thanks for the suggestion. Most of them end up owning the film. Both symbolic and blunt, "Watership Down" is a triumph of emotional proportions and is exemplary of what adaptations, animation, scoring and good film-making should be about. This wonderful adventure is an asset to any collection...10/10.
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A Wonderfully Gripping Adventurous Tale Of Survival
Chrysanthepop1 August 2008
'Watership Down' is a terrific adaptation of Richard Adams's novel. Like Orwell's 'Animal Farm', this isn't only a film for children but equally important for adults. The soundtrack is captivating and I loved the way Art Garfunkel's song was used. The characters are so richly written that the viewer immediately empathizes and identifies with them. They are brave, endearing, loyal and strong and this is all cleverly downplayed. Fiver and Hazel are the two heroes who are brilliantly voiced by Richard Briers and John Hurt. The overall voice acting is very well done.

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.
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Simply brilliant
Nice_Guy_Daz7 April 2004
'Watership Down' is quite simply my favourite animated film of all time.

The vocal talent, animation style (both in the main story and in the mythical opening), soundtrack and script all work wonderfully, shortening the material of the book but not losing all of its themes. Efrafa was exactly as I imagined it would be from reading the book, Woundwort being suitably scary and unhinged.

Obviously the violence and horrific imagery has been toned down to make the film more accesible to a young audience (at 8 I wore out TWO copies of the film on VHS!!!) but not so much that the film becomes cutesy. Far from it. These are not fluffy bunnies in the vein of Thumper, they are real. They get hurt (Bigwig nearly is killed in a snare, Hazel is shot, Captain Holly arrives nearly dead), they fight, they flee from domestic dogs, cat, from humans with guns. There is blood and violence, the film does not shy away from that...Blackavar's torn ears are as wince-inducing to me now as they were to me when I first saw the film 10 years ago.

What does surprise me now though is that the film is rated U (universal, suitable for all) here in the UK. Not only is there some mild swearing, the level of violence and the visual horror (Fivel seeing the field covered in blood, Holly's description of the warren blocked with dead bodies) is surely at least PG? Hmmm....

To conclude it can be said that watching films from your childhood is often a bad move....they are usually best left in the memory. The same can not be said of Watership Down. Simply brilliant!
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A wonderful film for all ages
Jevilian Snort24 February 2005
I saw this film initially when I was about six or seven years old and have seen it several times since. Of all the films I saw during my early childhood, none captivated me as much as Watership Down. I am now twenty eight years old and, despite the violence and sadness of the film, I have somehow turned out to be a fairly normal bloke rather than a murderer or manic depressive. Funny that.

It is a complete fallacy to suggest that we must shield our children from anything that hints of the injustices that may exist in the real world. In fact, seeing a film such as this may help them in dealing with issues in their own lives or perhaps teach them lessons in understanding and appreciation of the world around them. Watership Down had that effect on me.
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Watership Down is Amazing
kezais2 October 2005
I am twelve years old and I personally loved it. It is one of the most touching films I have seen. All to do with these rabbits hardships. Some of it made me laugh whilst other bits made me cry, but thats just me. It is very good and also makes you think about what could be happening in real life. My dad used to take me shooting rabbits, but after Watership Down I never went again. The graphics may not be as high quality as some of the newest releases but don't let that put you off. It is a remarkable film and I loved it. Don't think that older films are no good because Watership Down is AMAZING! I think if you are under the age of eight then you might not like it due to some violence and gore, but eight plus with love it. Even adults will enjoy it.
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Would have been my favorite film if I had seen it when I was a kid
zetes3 August 2000
If I had had this video when I was 8 or 9, I think I would have watched it as much as or more than I watched any other video that I had at the time. It's quite an extraordinary film. I'm 21 now, and I found it very exciting and involving throughout. The only problem is that it always seems like the episodes in the film happen a bit too quick, making it pretty obvious that it was adapted from a much longer novel. Episodes that seem very important only last for three minutes or so. And they never did free the rabbits in the pen at the farmhouse. Still, it's a great movie. While not for the very young children (there is a bit of violence and gore), I think any kid 8 or above would really love this film. Learn that you don't have to just buy videos of recent films for children. Some of the older films are much better. 9/10.
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terrific adaptation
gazzo-210 November 1999
While not as good as the book itself, the movie was well done indeed. This was one of those books I lived in when I first read it, never has Richard Adams come close to what he achieved here, able to pull you the reader right down into the grass roots along with Hazel, Fiver and BigWig. And the animators did him justice...I don't have much to add here that others here haven't, save to say I enjoyed the classic voices used here a lot-from Joss Ackland as the 'Black Rabbit of Inle' to the late, much lamented Harry Andrews as Woundwort. Now THAT guy was as tough and ornery a character actor as ever I saw onscreen, and he did the brutal Woundwort character justice indeed.

Of course I recommend this-***1/2 outta ****, the book being ****.
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My favorite animated film!
andy-22717 May 1999
The first great animated film to come around in the entire history of motion pictures! It's not only original(shying away from the traditional "Disney" formula), but it's the first animated film to ponder the meaning of life itself! I was really moved by it! With "Disney" films, you know what to expect. This was like watching a Terrence Malick film; beautiful, subtle, spiritual, and important for our lives. The only difference is that it's animated with "cute & cuddly" cartoon characters. This is a film both adults and children alike will enjoy and learn from, because it is a social commentary on facism, and it is a spiritual film. It's spirituality lies in it's initial message, which is about facing death, and avoiding it as well. Not that you can avoid death, but that you can have a sense of self preservation, purpose, and a place in life. The most inspirational line of the movie is "All the world will be your enemy. And when they catch you, they will kill you. But first they have to catch you.". All of your life, you will continue to meet people who like you, and those that will attack you. Be strong, stand tall, "and your people will never be destroyed.". That is basically, in a few words, what the world and the meaning of life is really all about!
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Even This Cynical Viewer Was Enthralled By This Exciting Animated Adventure
Theo Robertson2 January 2006
I had absolutely no knowledge of WATERSHIP DOWN was going to be about except that it featured rabbits in some capacity . I had an inkling it was going to be some patronising , juvenile crap that anyone above the age of seven would find nauseating . It says something about the quality of television on the run up to Christmas when a bitter and twisted 39 year old man sits down to watch a feature length about talking rabbits - Talking rabbits ! OMG , it's not like the author Richard Adams meant the story to be some drug metaphor is it ? OMG talking rabbits just how pathetic is that ? And the one thing that I remembered on its initial release - And which I'm still trying to forget to this very day - is that gawd awful song by the guy with the worst hairstyle in the history of pop music . You know the song .... " bright eyes burning like fire " . Bad enough I saw BARNEY'S BIG ADVENTURE the previous day . Now I was going to be watching equally childish sentimental crap with talking rabbits

Oh hold on . I've just seen WATERSHIP DOWN this very minute . Can everyone reading this review please ignore erroneous phrases like " Childish pathetic crap " because this is not how the story plays out . I do confess that perhaps the original story has perhaps been slightly flawed in the adaption with the hierarchy of the original warren somewhat unexplained ( For example why is it treason to leave the warren and search for a new one ? ) but that is my one and only criticism of this superb animated adventure which can be enjoyed by anyone of any age

In a nut shell WATERSHIP DOWN resembles one of those post apocalypse dramas by John Wyndham or more especially John Christopher except instead of humans it features rabbits that talk . No seriously forget all about the characters being humanized bunnies , this is a dark dramatic adventure where survivors of an eco-disaster try and find sanctuary in a bleak , desolate and dangerous world . As crazy as it sounds some people have picked up on the coincidence that the plot resembles 28 DAYS LATER and one can't help thinking that it's a little bit stronger than coincidence . If you've seen one you can't noticing the quite striking similarities between the two especially the climax . Of course it could be that the original novel of WATERSHIP DOWN was influenced by Conrad's HEART OF DARKNESS which seems to have influenced much of Alex Garland's work but even so

A thoroughly enthralling adventure that may have children weeping at the sad bits will certainly keep adults interested as they try and spot analogies . Let me repeat once again that while there's sad scenes there is nothing sickeningly sentimental and is a shockingly sophisticated tale . I certainly rate as being one of the greatest British productions of the 1970s
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"Be cunning, and full of tricks, and your people will never be destroyed."
ackstasis16 November 2007
Being an Australian, it's rather difficult to sympathise with the plight of rabbits. Following their introduction to our continent in 1859, the European Rabbit population has multiplied at an absolutely phenomenal rate, destroying the natural environment and helping to drive numerous native marsupial species to extinction. They've survived countless attempts to eradicate their numbers, and are now largely resistant to both Myxomatosis and calicivirus. At home, I'm always sure to congratulate my pet dog, Cassie, whenever she trots into the backyard with a rabbit clutched between her teeth. You'll forgive me for launching into a tirade about a troublesome Australian pest, but I'm just trying to convey my general abhorrence towards the species. It would have taken a mighty piece of film-making to make me forget that I hate rabbits, and yet 'Watership Down (1978)' had me utterly engaged from the opening moments. Not only did I care about Hazel, Fiver and Bigwig, but I genuinely fell in love with them, and for 100 minutes I was completely absorbed in their strenuous but noble struggle for survival.

The film is based upon the 1972 novel of the same name by Richard Adams, and was both adapted and directed by Martin Rosen. What struck me most was how incredibly rich the story was, with Adams having created not only a wealth of multi-layered characters, but also an entire rabbit culture and mythology. 'Watership Down' opens with a fascinating Creation story, as the God-like deity Frith (symbolised by the Sun) creates planet Earth and every creature within it. In a double-edged blessing, Frith condemns the mischievous rabbit prince El-ahrairah to forever be hunted, but also to always have the skill and agility to survive: "All the world will be your enemy, Prince of a Thousand Enemies. And when they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you." The events take place in the English countryside, with the title stemming from a hill at Ecchinswell in the county of Hampshire; despite my initial preconceptions, 'Watership Down' was certainly not the story of a sinking ocean liner!

Hazel the rabbit (voiced by John Hurt) may not be physically-imposing, but he is selfless, intelligent and mature, and this makes him a fine leader. His younger brother, Fiver (Richard Briers), is runtish and neurotic, yet he possesses a sort of mystic flair that means his peculiar "feelings" almost always prove significant. After Fiver foresees danger approaching their warren, a small group of rabbits – including the brutish but noble Bigwig (Michael Graham Cox) – flee their home in search of a safer locale. Their journey is certainly not a walk in the park, and allow me to be the one millionth reviewer to warn parents that many scenes in this film are not suitable for young children. As the group trudge across the English countryside, they are greeted with an assortment of creatures who would be more than happy to make a dinner out of them, including hawks, dogs, cats and humans. However, the rabbits' greatest obstacle before happiness is the nasty, tyrannical Chief-Rabbit, General Woundwort (Harry Andrews), a bloated, domineering lump of a villain who is both reminiscent of George Orwell's Napolean and, oddly enough, Orson Welles' Police Captain Hank Quinlan.
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My strongest nostalgia-inducing movie from growing up.
Flagrant-Baronessa28 June 2006
Watership Down is so rich in unique storytelling and symbolism that, when I think about it, I must have been far too young to comprehend its complexity when I saw it as a kid for the first time. Nonetheless, I remember enjoying it immensely. It freaked me out too with all its violence, but I'm willing to overlook that because it is such a masterpiece.

Basically, one bunny has a premonition of their warren being destroyed. So, all the bunnies set out on a journey to find a new home. Their new settlement is "Watership Down".

I haven't read the novel, but I hear it is a very faithful adaptation. I'm sure it has flaws but it is definitely a very interesting film that everyone should see at some point in their life.
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A beautiful look at animation for a well done novel
jake-982 March 2000
Warning: Spoilers
Done primarily in water color, Richard Adams' best selling story tells the tale of a warren of rabbits who venture away from the evils of man in search for a new and better place to live. Film portrays a whole new world with simplicity and calm but also dangers and obstacles that mimic the way human beings live. An excellent story and can only be done in an animated movie with a serious manner for a full effect. If one wants the full effect then read the book and you will be glued to it, captivated deep within another world.
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You'll never look at rabbits in the same way ever again
hewhoshouldnotbenamed26 June 2001
There is nothing about "Watership Down" that I dislike. This film is a flawless adult fantasy that I never tire of viewing. The music is pure class, the voice talent is remarkable, the animation is charming (as are the characters), the story relevant, witty, humourous, and thought-provoking.

Although this is an animated film about a society of rabbits seeking to establish a new warren in unknown lands, "Watership Down" is perhaps not a good film for young children, as the mood can be creepy at times, and there is a bit of violence and blood shed; certainly not in the same mood as, say, "The Secret Of Nimh".

After viewing this film, one thing is for sure: you'll never look at rabbits in the same way ever again.

Sure delight!
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Book has great story, Movie has great music
thomax10 July 2001
Honestly, I didn't even know there was a movie until I was half way done with the book. I was absolutely LOVING the story and trials the rabbits were enduring. Then one day I was at a rental place looking for the Planet of the Apes movies (don't ask) and I saw the cover of Watership Down (movie)! I was very much tempted to renting it, but then I told myself NOT to rent it until you've finished the book. I sure am glad I waited!

When I closed the back cover to the book, it had taken my breath away in an instant! The storytelling was captivating, heartbreaking, very interesting, and best of all it was easy to read and follow along! (Some books just confuse me from page 1).

After that, I ran over to the movie rental place and rented the movie. When I watched it the first time, I was pretty much trying to capture the differences from the book, and there were plenty, but overall, it was much better than most book-to-movies. I watched it a second time, this time to enjoy the adventure of Hazel and Bigwig and the rest. That's when I noticed how wonderful the music went along with the feeling and tone. The third time I watched it, I closed my eyes and only listened to the music and dialogue and imagined the movie in my head. I must say I almost cried when Bright Eyes (main theme) played. Watership Down's musical score hits you in just the right place to give you Goosebumps!

When I returned the rental, I rushed to the Bookstore and bought Richard Adam's other book "The Plague Dogs", which in my opinion was a terrible book because it doesn't get interesting until the very last chapter...but that's a whole different story.

Overall of the overall, I give the movie a 8/10. The score would have been lower, but the music got to me and now I can't get it out of my head. Someday I'll buy it if it ever comes to DVD in the future.
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Read the book - it's better.
meretchen23 July 2012
Well, it's not at bad film, I like the animation, and it tells a pretty gripping story. I also like how it incorporates the lapine language in a way that comes natural.

But then again, the film does fail in making the characters from the book come truly alive on the screen, and it also fails at telling the fable about human nature that Richard Adams wants to tell.

I know that a film can never be entirely true to a book, some cuts and changes must be made. But some of the choices made by the screen writers here are difficult to understand. Such as the completely unnecessary addition of the rabbit Violet, who is in the story only to be killed - which pretty much ruins one of the points Hazel and Bigwig make to Captain Holly in the book but not in the film; namely that all of the 'hrair' (more than four) rabbits, who left the colony, none have died. This is why Holly - mighty Captain of the Owsla - accepts Hazel as a leader, instead of trying to usurp him.

The conflict or competition for the leadership, which takes place between Hazel and Bigwig, is completely lacking in the film. Instead, Hazel quite suddenly transforms from outskirt rabbit to strong leader, and no one questions his leadership. This is a very weak point in the film.

Also, Cowslips colony ought to play a much larger part in the story - as it indeed does in the book. This colony is an image of a modern, post-Christian welfare society that has lost sight of its roots ("they forgot about El-Ahrairah") - which is a pretty obvious point in the book, but not at all evident in the film. Five to ten minutes of film could have easily made all of this clear, plus we could also perhaps have heard the heartbreaking story of Strawberry and Nildro-Hain, two characters from the book whom I really missed in the film.

If all of this had been in the film, Captain Hollys tale wouldn't have had to be altered either, as it would have made perfect sense that it was Cowslip and his cronies who tried to kill him - not the rabbits of Efrafa. (How would he get to Efrafa anyway? He was following the hraka of the other rabbits all the time, as his objective is always to find Bigwig and offer him an apology.)

I rather liked the adaptation of the Efrafa-part of the book, though. This horrible Nazi colony is much better described than Cowslips colony is.
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just about a masterpiece of animation; Rosen is a brilliant British filmmaker
MisterWhiplash13 June 2008
Watership Down is that animated film you'll hear about from a friend- not usually when you're a kid unless you're the kind that hangs around those reading dark British animal novels written by Richard Adams- when you're an older teen or an adult, and that it's not you're garden-variety Disney movie with violent rabbit encounters and an animation approach that is not at all "fluffy" in description. When finally seen, it goes past the hype of being one of those sleeper hits of the 1970s. It's mostly a pure masterpiece of animation, British or otherwise, though for Britain it's an even more significant achievement if only because only a handful of movies made there have made it to the States (not counting Rankin/Bass stuff like the Hobbit, more like the 1950s Animal Farm adaptation).

The approach from writer/director/producer Martin Rosen recognizes the source material as something very special; it's very much like one of those memorable books translated to screen without compromise that speaks to either very sophisticated older kids or to open-minded adults. It's not a fun romp, but rather a drama about society broken down to pieces and the contention between those that want to break from the old ways and destruction from human hands and those that still c ling to the ways of the 'General' character. It's also not for those not ready for a sad story; while it doesn't quite end on a sad note (maybe more bittersweet with a touch of the spiritual in a sense), there's lots of struggle and adversity to face, and it even faces questions that probably mean more coming out of an English mind-set regarding the breaking out of the old guard in times of survival.

Basically, it's about two rabbits, Hazel and Fiver, who lead a group of rabbits from their old homestead to a place that will be safe from destruction. And it's a good idea as all the old burrows and tunnels are plugged up. But there's contention in the ranks from the 'General', who demands that everything stay the same. Thanks to rabbits like Bigwig though things move ahead, but there's a lot of obstacles along the way. This is the clothesline of the plot, and there are a lot of details that should feel like they're apart of a more conventional animated movie even out of Disney. And yet, with Rosen's direction and the work of the animators, it's by a different impulse and mood, the film has the look of a *real* artistic drive- colors are usually (with a couple of exceptions like with that odd sun) very naturalistic, as most of the rabbits are, and because of this there's something going on one doesn't usually see in animated talking animal movies: a sense of the world presented as realistically (or at least honestly) as possible, and then pulsating with humanistic qualities through the characters and their journey.

As I mentioned, it's not really for little kids. If only because some of them will just be confused at times or not understand why the rabbits aren't like the really cute ones of other storybooks and fantasies (or, actually, just parts of the storyline and really well written dialog), but also because of the violence- the kind of which that could've inspired the PG-13 rating system back in the day. This goes without saying occasionally Rosen tries to put in some things that could make it more family friendly, and these end up being the only liabilities of the movie, notably, for me, the Art Garfunkel song put into a scene midway through (not to say too much but it involves a ghost) that feels sappy as bad syrup. When Rosen sticks to his guns and makes it a solid, unflinching story of rabbits out for survival in not-so-merry old England, it's exceptional, and surely one of the best films of the late 70s.
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Wonderfully Carthritic.
gothicform29 March 2004
Watership Down is a wonderful and yet peculiar film. Made infamous thanks to butchers urging people to buy the stew, not to mention an entire generation of traumatised children there's a lot more to this than just the recycled cliches.

What we have is a very English cartoon with lush watercolours and frollicking rabbits making their way across the picturesque countryside after one of the band of rabbits has had a vision of the warrens destruction.

Along their journey we are shown issues as ranging from the sadism of cats, to creationism and facism. The main issue though is the idea that the world is a hard place to live in, and it's this honesty that touches the audience. Despite everything bad that happens the rabbits never lose hope for building a utopian society. It's not really a kids film at all despite being a cartoon, there's plenty of graphic violence, nightmarish undertones and even bad language but it never ends up o.t.t. There's moments in it which can even bring up a lump in the throat of a grown man, which in my case is a rare thing indeed.

The animation employed is wonderful, with amazingly realistic movement and hazy water-coloured backdrops Turner would be proud of. The voice talent on offer ranging from Denholm Elliot to Richard Briers is nothing short of perfect. One of the biggest highlights is the divine music combined with the Aztec style animations as Fiver tries to find Hazel, a simulataneous mixture of uplifting and depressing which feels rather odd. I was going to write something completely different but this is such an effecting film I'm really lost for words. All I can say is watch it. It's a profound experience, and despite not being a kids film I'd show it to them, children need to learn about the world and this film is as good as any place to start teaching them.
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British Animation at its Best: Life From The Rabbit's Point of View
Will_Scarlet13 January 2004
Seriously, has anyone ever thought of what life is really like from the rabbit's POV? It's probably horrifying! Almost everything is open danger. The rabbits

here are not portrayed as victims, but as tragic heroes. The theme of this book and movie is the acceptance of their place in life, and continuing to live as nature intends them. British animation has never been appreciated as much as American or

Japanese or even Russian animation, with the possible exception of the

Wallace and Gromit films. Here, however, British animation reaches its peak.

You might want to watch this film for the background animation, from the scenic beauty of the English countryside, painted in stunning watercolor and graphite, to the eerily surreal quality of Fiver's visions and the night scenes, and starting with the first scene dealing with the Rabbit's idea of the Creation, animated seemingly in the style of the Celtic engravings of ancient Britain. Or the

character animation, the startlingly real quality of the Rabbit's movements. But there is more to this film than the animation. Helped along with a stellar British cast (excepting the legendary Zero Mostel as the crazy Yiddish accented seagull, Kehaar), the movie delivers its message with incredible power. With

Richard Briars as the dream-haunted Fiver, John Hurt himself as the leaderly

Hazel, and Michael Graham Cox as the tough-as-nails Bigwig, the characters

are well developed and appreciated. Is this the best of British animation? Of what I've seen of it, yes. This film's memorable moments go on and on. The warm sense of brotherly love displayed

by Hazel and Fiver, the nightmarish display of the warren's destruction, the

raucous voice of Kehaar, the final battle between Bigwig and General

Woundwort, the witch-like voice of the Cat, and the incredibly powerful

sequence of Hazel's death, this movie is pure English, and all you British-film lovers must see this and gather your own opinion.
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Classic Animation
SMonky6 October 1998
This movie has stuck in my head since I was a child. It had a dramatic effect over me and made me compassionate to animals and their hard times.
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astonishing film
Cobbler-214 January 1999
This is one of the movies that i actually kept remembering where all the others are forgotten within a day or even an hour, this one will be remembered forever. And the soundtrack with it is way cool too, Bright Eyes is one my favorite songs. It's just a great movie.
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You probably shouldn't show this to young children
failio-504-68244015 February 2015
There's no doubt about it; this is a great British animation, although it wasn't quite as emotional or depressing as I was expecting. The voice acting, with such voices as John Hurt and Richard Briers, is generally above-par, although in some parts it's a bit samey, and Kehaar's voice has the potential to be very annoying at times (it's also a little weird - in his iconic line "P*SS OFF!" he sounds like the voice of a woman on Monty Python, however in basically all his other dialogue he sounds like someone doing a bad impersonation of Roberto Benigni), however both of these are fairly easy to overlook. The animation is really good for a lesser budgeted film of the time, particularly in the opening sequence of the story of El-ahrairah, but some of the animations are quite choppy in certain places. An annoying side effect of the very high quality of the Digibeta print from which the movie was presented was that some of the imperfections of the animation were made quite obvious (for instance there is quite a lot of static dirt in some scenes, presumably sandwiched inbetween the cels of the characters and background). For such a modest film, it has quite a grand and bombastic orchestral score, which is very well composed and played, making those final scenes even more effective, and it also has an oddly haunting song in Art Garfunkel's ballad "Bright Eyes" playing over what is arguably the most emotional scene in the movie, and making it only more so. For the most part, this is a generally light- hearted little movie, however the last 15 or so minutes are genuinely rather dramatic, quite shocking (seriously, how the f**k did this get a U?), and undeniably tense. It's quite a jarring change of pace, but it's arguably what makes the movie what it is, as well as being a more than satisfying rounding off to the movie. Watership Down for me didn't quite match all of what I had heard it described as; this doesn't matter, though, because it is still a very good animated movie, and was a great, albeit not entirely enjoyable per sé, way to spend a Sunday afternoon at the movies.
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I'm Down with Watership!
Darren DeBari28 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
An animated masterpiece adapted from the Richard Adams novel. Right from the start we are told the rabbit's creation story. It starts very sweetly and soon becomes violent as we realize this film is not for young children. The themes are universal and the direction is exquisite by Martin Rosen. The score is both epic and eerie, a perfect fit for the rabbit's adventures. Sir Ralph Richardson's narration is also a warning for our heroes: "All the world will be your enemy, prince with a thousand enemies. And when they catch you, they'll kill you. But first they must catch you. Listener, digger, runner, prince with a swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks and your people will never be destroyed." The struggle of the bunnies is really a metaphor for man's struggle against evil. The film also makes a good point about man's destructive nature and how he's over expansion kills nature. There is a flashback scene where we witness the rabbits suffocating. We hear their eerie gasps and see their tormented, red eyes. Their warren is destroyed but thankfully a handful of rabbits leave in time.

The rabbits are led by the brave and noble Hazel, voiced by the great John Hurt. His sensitive brother, Fiver, voiced by Richard Briers, sees a bleak future for them and suggests they leave. They are joined by the strong BigWig, captain of the guard, and several others. After a series of adventures they find a lush, green mountain with a lovely view to live on. However, hey do need to mate and seek the help of a comically, wounded bird, a hilarious Zero Mostel.

Things get more complicated when the rabbits discover a place that other rabbits are abused and tortured.There is definitely a comparison to be drawn here to Nazi Germany. It's run by General Woundwort, voiced with pure menace by Harry Andrews. BigWig infiltrates and helps the other rabbits escape. Later, there is a final, bloody conflict between our heroes and Woundwort and his men.

The rest I won't dare give away but I'll tell you this is one of those films you see more in with each viewing. The rabbits creation story has definite parallels to the Old Testament and there is even a Black Rabbit of Death. In conclusion, the Black Rabbit comes to collect one of our heroes who is getting older and is ready to die. It's quite moving to watch that rabbit lie down and die and then observe his spirit emerge and chase the Black Rabbit to salvation.

This film I was fascinated with since childhood. Since I've gotten older I've found the themes even more relevant today. This is a very engrossing, human story that entertains and enlightens. If you truly enjoy this film, as I did, I suggest you read MORE TALES FROM WATERSHIP DOWN by Richard Adams. As for the film, it's one of my favorites of all time.
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My Childhood favourite!
setheverard5 July 2011
Watership down is an absolute classic and is one of my all time favourite films. I used to watch this film religiously as a child and to this day I still love it just as much.

What I love so much about the film is its harsh and brutal reality; it's THE most sinister children's film I have ever seen. How watching this film as a child didn't mentally damage me for life I don't know! However don't let that put you off; it's a beautiful story of friendship, loyalty and bravery. The film takes you on a brilliant journey with these characters, forget that there cartoon Rabbits! You can totally relate to each character and the storyline is incredibly mature and adult for a children's cartoon.

I admit my childhood love for this film makes my opinion bias, and that only other people like myself will agree with my highly complementing review, yet if you have only recently discovered this film, believe me it's still brilliant! The art work is fantastic and the emotion and darkness in film makes it feel totally grow up and modern.
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One of the most traumatizing movies I have ever seen, but what a masterpiece
abrown97527 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This is such a brilliant animated movie. The animation is top notch because it has so much variety. Not only in color, but in style, and it all benefits the story perfectly. The story is creative and suspenseful, and that is saying something considering that this is a movie about rabbits. But it was written so brilliantly that it doesn't seem clichéd, cutesy, or lagging at all. The casting was perfect as well. With a cast like John Hurt, Ralph Richardson, and Zero Mostel among others, you must have high expectations. That being said, this is not a very good movie one would want to show their little ones unless they are sure they will be able to handle some of the images in this movie. There is a lot of bloodshed and a lot of other images and situations a child might find unsettling, ironically coming from a film about cute little bunnies. So be absolutely sure that your child can handle this. But whether they can or can't at the time, this is a beautiful film with such a captivating story and brilliant animation, and it should be watched by anyone who either wants to be an cinema-enriched film buff or just someone who likes a good story. Either way, it is a brilliant film and an underrated masterpiece.
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