Monday, July 19, 2010

Movie Review: Watership Down

Featuring the Voice Talents of: John Hurt, Ralph Richardson, Michael Graham Cox, Richard Briers, Zero Mostel and Hannah Gordon

Director: Martin Rosen

Genre: Anime/Animation

Synopsis: From Richard Adams' bestseller comes an animated adventure and set in the rolling hills and meadows of England, Watership Down celebrates loyalty, courage and adventure with this tale of a maverick band of rabbits who, against all odds, set out on a quest for a new home, a better society. Join commonsensical Hazel, visionary Fiver, courageous Bigwig, and clever Blackberry as they escape peril to find their ultimate freedom.

My Rating: Four Out Of Five Stars

The Trailer:  FYI not the greatest quality. And you'll have to pause my playlist to the left for sound.

My Review: Watership Down is listed in listed in the Family/Children Category on Netflix and in my opinion should not be. It should be listed under Anime/Animation. This is a wonderful movie and animation was the most logical format for the story considering the setting and characters. But, I think the subject matter is far too mature for young kids to grasp. It is slow in some parts that children may find boring and even I was disturbed by some of the violence portrayed in the film. It's very unusual to see rabbits tearing each other apart (perhaps that is precisely the reason Richard Adams chose rabbits for his story). I would highly suggest to parents, watch the movie on your own prior to showing it to your kids to determine if it is suitable for them. You know your kid best. I do however, agree with the Parental Warning listed on Netflix, 11 years old is just about right. The animation in the movie may not live up to today's standards, but the animators took great care in their work. This is most obvious in the impressive way they animated the rabbits' movements. I have owned pet rabbits since I was a little girl and I can say with a great amount of certainty that the movements and natural rabbit behavior was animated not only beautifully, but realistically as well. There are so many valuable lessons pointed out in this movie that are directly related to the Human Condition such as fighting tyrannical authority, standing up for what you believe in, friendship, following your own path, the pursuit of happiness etc. But one issue that hasn't been discussed much on other reviews,that is very currently relevant is the film's portrayal of how humans are so apathetic towards their environment and fellow creatures. A great example of this is in my favorite scene when Captain Holly locates the wayward bunnies and recounts to them how the humans destroyed their warren. BigWig then says "Humans have always hated us," and ever so poignantly Holly replies, "No. We were just in their way." This film is disturbing yet, inspiring and thought provoking. It will affect all who view it.

The Soundtrack: The score is pretty standard as far animated features go. Each musical piece is emotionally appropriate to each scene it's matched with. Nothing incredibly memorable, however. And there is strange interlude mid-film which contains the musical "highlight" of the film, a song called "Bright Eyes" sung by the legendary Art Garfunkel (you can tell this movies was made the year I was born 1978, my mom was a huge Garfunkel fan!). Enjoy the video below.

DVD Special Features: The DVD that I watched was released in March 26, 2002. For those of you who are big fans of the "WD" saga a deluxe collector's edition with filmmaker interviews and other interesting bonus material wad released a bit more recently in October  of 2008. The particular release I watched extremely lacking in entertaining or informative extra footage but here's a brief rundown anyway: 
  • Richard Adams Profile: A brief biography about and list of other written works of the book's author.
  • "Watership Down Today":  A brief history & geography lesson on the actual location.
  • Original Theatrical Trailer: I think this one is self-explanatory.
  • Bunny Talk Glossary: The most useful of all the bonus material. If you are unfamiliar with Watership Down you should know that the Rabbits have their own language & religion. I would highly suggest that newbies to the Watership Down Saga (there are several follow up books and movies) to peruse this Rabbit-to-English Translation Guide before viewing the film. It will make the story easier to follow and the movie more enjoyable to watch.
If you've seen the movie or read the book and would like to voice your opinion ... please feel free leave a comment!

1 comment:

  1. This may be one of my favorite animated stories as well as one of my first real books that I read as a child. Now I can't help but feel sorrow when humans dig up a fresh plot of earth while acres lay in ruin within the city. Great review post.