I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Watership Down. I lost count years ago. My dad videotaped it off the TV when I was under double figures. If I remember rightly, he taped over something else and wrote WATERSHIP DOWN over whatever title the previous film had. My siblings and I played that tape to death.
It seemed like every other weekend we’d put it in the video player and transport ourselves to the meadows of Southern England, and take the perilous journey to Watership Down with Fiver, Bigwig, Hazel and the rest of the gang. Over the years, the sound became wobbly and lines started to appear on the picture. It was a sad time when it eventually became unwatchable.
Every single time that I’ve watched Watership Down, I’ve cried. I can’t help it. It’s the most heart-wrenching movie of all time. It’s also the most beautiful. I’m not one of those people who think it’s too disturbing for children. Quite the opposite actually, though I’m very much aware we’re all entitled to our own opinions with regards to this. My daughter will be watching Watership Down in a few years time. I remember when I watched it as a child, it wasn’t ‘too much violence’ it just was what it was. And we accepted that. Astonishingly, it’s considered to be the most violent PG-rated movie ever made, and the British Board of Film Classification is still receiving complaints four decades after it was released!
One of the reasons this film is so powerful and is so memorable and is so important is because there was no tiptoeing around the difficult subjects. Yes, I was scared when Fiver had his terrible, apocalyptic visions. Yes, I was scared when Bigwig was trapped in the wire. Yes, I was scared of the Black Rabbit of Inlé. But I wasn’t traumatized for life. I stand up and I applaud the film’s creators a thousand times over for not playing it safe. If you’re looking for another animated film which says ‘nah’ to playing it safe, I highly recommend The Secrets Of Nimh.
It took me until 2012 to read the novel, but when I did it was one of the most profoundly moving and exciting times of my life. I wanted so much to meet Richard Adams and thank him for his incredible work. To this day Watership Down remains to be one of the best books I’ve ever read and I must return to it again soon. Like the film, it needs to be returned to over and over. I’ve thought, often, about getting a tattoo of the Black Rabbit of Inlé, even though I shivered whenever it made its presence known.
The art I’ve collected today has been found on Pinterest. If you know any of the artists who I’ve not been able to name, please do let me know!
If you would like to see more of my Watership Down related posts, you can find them here: