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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Literature > Fantasy > Animals > Watership Down (1978 Animated Feature/Umbrella Entertainment DVD/Region Zero/0/PAL Format)

Watership Down (1978 Animated Feature/Umbrella Entertainment DVD/Region Zero/0/PAL Format)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Film: B-



PLEASE NOTE: This DVD can only be operated on machines capable of playing back DVDs that can handle Region Zero/0/PAL format software, and can be ordered from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment at the website address provided at the end of the review.



Long after the 1954 version of Animal Farm, British Cinema produced another dark animated feature film in Watership Down, the 1978 adaptation by Writer/Director Martin Rosen from Richard Adams’ best-selling novel about the mortal civilization of rabbits hidden from the rest of the world.  Not for children, it features the voices of John Hurt, Zero Mostel, Sir Ralph Richardson, Denholm Elliott, Nigel Hawthorne, Roy Kinnear, Hannah Gordon, Clifton Jones, Joss Ackland and many others.


As told with the rabbit’s eye(s), the film is boldly dark, could be considered as much an animated fantasy film as The Lord Of The Rings, Wizards and other Ralph Bakshi (and Bakshi-like) features of the time and never shies away from the original material source.  If this was made today, the makers might have had more money and newer technology, but it would not have been as good and they would have found a way to infantilize it.  Instead, it is about a dark word of danger and exploitation in an ugly otherworld that too uncomfortably mirrors ours, but is thought-provoking and an achievement in the art of animation.


I have seen many poor versions of this film, which got in the way of me appreciating it, but this was nearly a revelation if not a perfect disc.  The film deserves some kind rediscovery and the fact this did not happen after three Rings films is suspicious in the least.  Now, in this competent DVD edition, fans (especially of the book and animation) can enjoy the film in a decent presentation.



The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 color image is not bad, developed by Technicolor, we wondered if they made three-strip dye-transfer prints in the U.K., but this is certainly not that kind of print.  Detail is an issue, but this PAL DVD is consistent.  Terry Rawlings’ editing is a plus.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is not bad, but has no surrounds despite being a Dolby A-type theatrical release.  Art Garfunkel sings “Bright Eyes” and Angela Morley’s score furthers the narrative’s somber mood.  Extras are more than expected and include the trailer, quotes from the book on history & rabbit religion, several stills sections that include art, glossary and the original theatrical trailer.



As noted above, you can order this import exclusively from Umbrella at:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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