Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1970s Watership Down (1978)

Watership Down (1978)

This animated version of Richard Adams’s bestselling novel about a group of rabbits searching for a new home was a box-office success, despite the difficulty of being pigeonholed as a “kids’ movie” but released with a PG certificate (for several genuinely scary scenes).

In fact, its faithful retelling of the story gives the movie a dark sophistication that will attract older children and their parents.

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Martin Rosen inherited the project after John Hubley, who helped animate many Disney classics of the 1940s, had departed owing to “creative differences”. The visual style is ambitious, with a naturalistic style and watercolour backgrounds that some may find clunky and others will adore.

The voice cast is truly impressive, with telling contributions from John Hurt, Ralph Richardson, Denholm Elliott, Richard Briers and a bonkers Zero Mostel as the seagull Kehaar.

Hurt and Rosen would reunite for the animated dramatisation of Adams’s darker follow-up, The Plague Dogs. And the tale is crowned (or saddled, according to taste) with Art Garfunkel’s rendition of the chart-topping Bright Eyes.

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Fans of the book and Japanese manga should appreciate its unique look, others may find themselves drifting off.

Hazel
John Hurt
Fiver
Richard Briers
Bigwig
Michael Graham-Cox
Captain Holly
John Bennett
Chief Rabbit
Ralph Richardson
Blackberry
Simon Cadell
Silver
Terence Rigby
Pipkin
Roy Kinnear
Hyzenthlay
Hannah Gordon
Kehaar
Zero Mostel
Frith
Michael Hordern

Director
Martin Rosen

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