20 March 2007

Ink Blots LVI - Watership Down

Like last month's The Plague Dogs, this movie was based on a novel by Richard Adams. It was a fairly big hit in Britain in 1978, paving the way for the aforementioned Dogs.

The film opens with a stylized creation myth sequence explaining the the Prince of rabbits multiplied to fast. Since he couldn't control his followers, he was given enemies (the fox, dog, cat, eagle, and in this film other rabbits). But he was also blessed with great speed. He was told of his enemies, "when they catch you, they will kill you... but first they must catch you."

The style of the film then becomes more realistic and introduces Fiver and Hazel. Fiver is a bit of a rabbit prophet and sees a vision of blood in the fields (man is coming to develop the land). He gets a group of bunnies to follow him away from their warren in search of a new home. The rest of the film follows their adventures and perils. The culture of the rabbits, complete with a rabbit-speak vernacular, is surprisingly rich, and peppered throughout the tale.

So what is "Watership Down" anyways? Turns out a down is a hill in British English. So the film is about a hill, or more accurately the happenings there.

Like The Plague Dogs, this is a pretty downbeat film. Not all of the cottontails escape their predators. So, there is a real sense of danger. Even some of the survivors are maimed or embloodied, so kids, beware. Though the characters all have sort of a flat look,there is a great deal of attention given to the rabbits little movements bringing them to life. One complaint, not to sound like a rabbit racist, rabbits can probably all tell each other apart, but to me they all look more or less the same. Bigwig has a distinct tuft of hair, but some of the others are tough to tell apart.

The film also features the Art Garfunkel hit, Bright Eyes. This song is bizarrely out of place in this film. It accompanies some psychedelic (surely drug inspired) animation But don't worry, it maintains the somber mood of the movie.

21 years after the film, there was an animated Watership Down TV series. This series was targeted to a younger audience and was thus poorly received.

Watership down is a classic animated film that has stood the test of time. Its hard to believe that its nearly 30 years old. Its so weird that a film about rabbits can be so intense and graphic. Though the film does slow down a bit at times, overall it is an interesting ride where anyone could be the next to meet the rabbit maker. There aren't a lot of films out there like this, so these bunnies get an A-.

Watership Down

The Plague Dogs


Anonymous said...

I love this movie.

j said...

I'd like to watch this one sometime. I have vague memories of shadow rabbits and rabid dogs. Do you own it?

Chip Chief said...

this is one of many dvds in my ever growing collection

Satan's Yam said...

Great pick, Chief. This is probabyl my all-time favorite novel and I loved the movie growing up. I'm glad to see it getting some love here.

Chip Chief said...

Thanks Satan! Feel free to make requests for future reviews as well.