It’s hard to say the name ‘Watership Down’ without being overcome by a unique blend of both awe and sadness. The film, as well as the book on which it was based, has become one of the most iconic pieces of animation to date for its breathtaking portrayal of a story that is as heart-wrenching as it is memorable. We will now have the chance to revisit the beloved tale thanks to a new mini-series being co-produced by BBC and Netflix.
The four-part CG animated series will be directed by Noam Murro (300: Rise of the Empire) and written by Tom Bidwell (My Mad Fat Diary), with notable names such as John Boyega, James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult, Ben Kinglsey, and Gemma Arterton to star as various rabbit characters.
First published in 1972, ‘Watership Down’ is a novel by Richard Adams that tells the harrowing story of a group of rabbits who are forced to leave their beloved warren due to the encroachment of man and traverse the dangerous and deadly land to try to reach a new home. It became a masterwork of fiction, going on to sell millions of copies worldwide. In 1978, Martin Rosen adapted the tale into an animated film that featured the voices of John Hurt and Richard Briers. While the films is said to have traumatised many children, it is none-the-less a beautiful iteration, and also featured the hit song “Bright Eyes” by Art Garfunkel. The book was also adapted for a television series from 1999-2001.
It is unknown whether or not this new film will remain true to the original text which features intense themes and graphic violence. Given that films such as Deadpool have shown that favouring the source material over shying away from an R rating can lead to a massive hit, and the upcoming iteration of ‘The Killing Joke’ taking a similar approach, we can remain hopeful that creators will keep to the content that is held dear to many, many fans the world over.