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Watership Down review

We review Watership Down - a quirky anti-Disney animated movie based on Richard Adams’s novel

Watership Down

Watership Down

Certificate: U

Voices of: Richard Briers, John Hurt

Release date: 1978

4 out of 5


Most famous, of course, for the Art Garfunkel theme song, ‘Bright Eyes’, Watership Down is a quirky animated movie based on Richard Adams’s novel. It’s odd in an anti-Disney sort of way – there are no cute songs, the whole tone of the movie is dark and creepy, and the animals here (wild rabbits) are not really fuzzy wuzzy.

But then if it was likely that your life was going to be cut short by a car brutally mowing you down, you probably wouldn’t feel that sweet and furry either.
If you haven’t already realised, this is definitely not a movie for small children, who would be disturbed by some of the imagery, such as the destruction of a burrow and the rabbits that are crushed there.

It’s the story of a group of rabbits who leave their warren after one of their number, Fiver (Briers), predicts something awful is to happen to their home. The animation adds to the feeling of disquiet you get while watching the film – it looks like watercolour paintings come to life – while the haunting appearance of the black rabbit of death is remembered with a shiver by many who first saw the film as a child.

Both sad and frightening, this remains true to the novel, so is a must for fans of Adams’s book.

Is Watership Down suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...

Please read the review above – this is definitely not for young children (under the age of nine).

Rabbits are killed, including one that is attacked by a hawk.

Another is caught in a trap and coughs up blood which is a very disturbing image.

One rabbit has his ears torn as punishment, another is beaten. One is shot and you see the wound, two are hit by a train in a scary sequence.

There is also a very scary, intense climactic scene – the final battle of the rabbits.

There are nightmarish visions that the rabbits experience, including the aforementioned black rabbit of death.

There is also an upsetting scene when rabbits are gassed in their burrow.

If you like this, why not try: Tarka The Otter,  Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls Of Ga’Hoole, March Of The Penguins, The Secret Of NIMH, Spirit: Stallion Of The Cimarron,