For Reel

Watership Down (1978)
October 16, 2015, 9:33 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Martin Rosen
3.5 Stars
Watership DownWatership Down has the unmistakable feel of a nightmare. Animated in a style that aspires for naturalism, the resulting portrayals of dread and viciousness are rendered all the more disturbing. Furthermore, this very venture in creating a sense of realism draws even more attention to the more expressionistic sequences, which in themselves play as poems reflecting on death. One would be hard pressed to find a film (“children’s” or otherwise) that achieves this desperate sense of melancholy–in fact, if the film somewhat fails on narrative terms, it works completely as a mood piece. Without the Disney technique of distinguishing animal characters through exaggerated features or personalities, the rabbits in Watership Down often become hard to tell apart, and the languid pacing seems at odds with the film’s more traditional action-oriented suspense sequences near the end. That the lengthy shots of nearly-dead, bleeding rabbits feel comparatively more true to the vision tells you all you need to know about this invaluable oddity.

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