Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Watership Down - World animation reviews (UK)

Watership Down - 1978
Director - Martin Rosen
1. Watership Down - Poster

Plot summary / review:
Based on English author Richard Adam's novel, Watership Down is an established classic, endlessly repeated on British television. It was originally directed by John Hubley who left early in production after completing the opening scene. Martin Rose took over the reigns, recruiting an impressive cast of British film, television and theater stars including John Hurt and Richard Briers. It's a rare animation that still manages to appeal to audiences of all ages. Richard Schickel of Time magazine states at the time of it's release that it "keeps kids on the edge of their chairs without inducing in their parents an overwhelming desire to escape theirs for a smoke in the lobby." (Schickel. 1978).

Set in Hampshire, England (where Adam's grew up), the story revolves around a group of rabbits living in their warren. An intuitive young runt rabbit called Fiver receives a terrorizing vision of the imminent destruction of their home. Fiver and his brother Hazel try to convince the chief rabbit to evacuate but are unsuccessful. Lead by Hazel, a small group of rabbits set off on a dangerous journey to find a new home.

2. Fiver's visions

3. The journey begins

The film has a realistic, sensitive and unsentimental style. It does suffer "at times from rather minimal animation, which, along with the limited range of expression in the naturalistic animal faces, often contrasts with the dramatic voice performances by the excellent cast." (Cavalier. 236:2011). This is atoned by strong character designs and sumptuous environments akin to John Constables watercolour paintings.

4. Watercolour environments

Marketed as a family friendly, mainstream film, Watership Down is no cute children's story. There is a powerful sense of danger throughout the film culminating in a gory final battle. Rosen's film is a brave and uncompromising story that "ultimately works because it doesn't dilute the violence and drama of Adams' book with a rose-tinted lens." (Luck. 2008). Combined with Art Garfunkal's powerful, emotional soundtrack "Bright Eyes" (1978), Watership Down is rightfully considered as one of the greatest animations of all time.

5. Uncompromising violence


Cavalier, Stephen. (2011). The World History of Animation. UK. Rotovision

Luck, Richard. Film4 review 3rd September 2008 - Accessed 11/04/12

Schickel, Richard. Time Magazine review 13th November 1978,9171,946188,00.html?promoid=googlep - Accessed 11/04/12


1. Watership Down - Poster - Accessed 11/04/12

2. Fiver's Vision - Accessed 11/04/12

3. The journey begins - Accessed 11/04/12

4. Watercolour environments - Accessed 11/04/12

5. Uncompromising violence - Accessed 11/04/12

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