Watership Down (1978)
Critics Consensus: Aimed at adults perhaps more than children, this is a respectful, beautifully animated adaptation of Richard Adams' beloved book.
No Top Critics Tomatometer score yet...
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. ~ Craig Butler, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for Watership Down
A rare movie that 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.
A brief spark of imagination survives in a prologue sequence, designed by the great John Hubley before he was fired from the film. The rest is blandness.
The 'camera' takes a conventionally objective viewpoint, perpetually rolling over rolling countryside, which effectively robs the plot of all its terror and tension.
...lovely to look at and fun to listen to, but dull and lethargic in spots, too, and sometimes brutally savage.
A beautifully realised animation, Watership Down ultimately works because it doesn't dilute the violence and drama of Adams' book with a rose-tinted lens.
Expertly and realistically animated, this version of the popular novel didn't seem to have an audience.
The rabbits' interactions mirror those of human behavior, and so too does the film possess a startlingly tangible sense of death.
Artful, pretty forgotten (and it should not be) animation of best seller.
Classic non-children's animated film.
Cuts so deep on so many ethereal levels that you can flip to nearly any page in the history book and see a parallel.
Don't listen to anybody who writes it off as a 'cartoon about bunnies.' Stunning beauty, smart scripting, a splendid score ... this is a serious film for serious moviegoers.
Richard Adams's unforgettable, much-loved tale is honorably brought to life in a low-key, realistic animated style well suited to the naturalism and mature tone of the book.
For a kid, it's great. Kids can't normally smell extremely episodic, fractured narratives.
Multiplying isn't all the rabbits are good at...
Audience Reviews for Watership Down
Watership Down shows faithfulness and outmost respect for the novel. I admire the choice to go in the direction of adults for a film that features bunnies. It's amazing how a cartoon can really push the barriers for emotional impact. It's suprisingly gory (it was a pleasant one). I cry when I watch Watership Down. It's an underated animated jewel that one day will be appreciated for it's majesty. An absolute classic, among my favorite films.More
This is possibly one of those innovative animated tales that is nowhere near recognized for the strength and creativity it has. Watership Down is a story that makes Bambi looked entirely phoned in and misguided (not saying it is). Strong in voice acting and stunning artwork, this film starts off just a little lacking in the animation department, but that changes less than ten minutes in, for you are taken away by the complexity, drama and overall tension of the story and environment. And not only this, the film is created in such a way that it is far more suitable for adults than children, even if it is centered around a collection of rabbits and their search for a new home. Most likely where Charles Grosvenor got the plotline for his much more "kids-friendly" film Once Upon A Forest, Watership Down is edgy, dramatic, truly beautiful and wonderfully engrossing, one of the best animated films I have ever seen.More
Such a great movie, loved it as a kid and still stands up today. Brings a tear to my everytime I watch it.More
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