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Freudian Slit
03-27-2015, 09:22 PM
I'm rereading Watership Down for the hrairth time, and I just found out they're making another film out of it. The BBC is remaking it (http://www.blastr.com/2015-3-11/bbc-bring-back-classic-watership-down-bunnies-new-cgi-reboot), with CGI.

A successful 1987 animated film directed by Martin Rosen featured a faithful approach to the sometimes alarming material, and is beloved (or remembered in nightmares) by a generation. So why remake it? Reportedly it's an effort to more fully capture the livilng world of the rabbits of Watership Down, with more advanced animation technology better able to render the wildlife and scenery that make up their world.

I'm not sure whether to be scared or intrigued...

Hail Ants
03-27-2015, 10:17 PM
Well, to begin with, the classic animated film came out in 1978, not 1987. I don't think it got much of a release here in America because I first saw it on HBO circa 1980 or so and loved it (and would have remembered it being in the theaters). I read the book the following summer, and was amazed at how faithful to it the film remained.

I'm very cynical in general, and given the sissy-fication of the entertainment world over the last 20 years I can't help but cringe to think how watered-down a treatment it would be given today. But who knows, it might have a chance if made by the BBC.

Tangent
03-27-2015, 11:03 PM
It's one of my favorite books, and I own the movie on DVD. I, too, fear they will omit or tone down some of the more intense situations in the new movie, to be able to sell tickets to families. The animation in the original movie is beautiful, and I love the stylized El-Ahrairah sequences.

Jophiel
03-27-2015, 11:08 PM
I'm interested. I've also read the book a bunch of times and seen/own the film but I'd be interested in seeing a new version of it. Although I like the film, it does feel somewhat dated and I don't see the harm in in seeing the world through a different set of eyes.

Jophiel
03-27-2015, 11:18 PM
I, too, fear they will omit or tone down some of the more intense situations in the new movie, to be able to sell tickets to families.
It's being done by the BBC so I assumed it would be a televised film and paid for by taxes; no ticket sales required. Or maybe the BBC does cinema and my American brain never picked up on it.

Tamerlane
03-27-2015, 11:44 PM
Love the book, though I haven't read it in decades. Also liked the film and as a young lad I had a still of it hanging on wall, featuring General Woundwort and Bigwig locked in combat, blood streaming from their wounds. Awesome wall decoration when you're an eleven-year old boy :D.

However I think the film could be improved on in a number of ways. A few characters like Blackavar really got shafted and the does were essentially cut out entirely. Running time is obviously an issue ( unless the were to do an animated mini-series ). Still I think it could be updated successfully.

Which of course doesn't mean it will be. Just as likely it will be a steaming pile of hraka. But I'll cross my fingers.

GuanoLad
03-28-2015, 01:32 AM
The original did a really good job of portraying the rabbits and environment realistically. It would be good to see them even more realistic.

There was a remake in 1999 but that reduced them to a more cartoon look (http://wall.alphacoders.com/big.php?i=436844).

Claverhouse
03-28-2015, 02:42 AM
I'm guessing:


Benedict Cumberbatch
Judi Dench
George Clooney
David Hyde Pierce
Jeremy Clarkson
Cate Blanchett
ChloŽ Grace Moretz

and Natalie Portman as a new young strong-willed fighting female rabbit for balance.



Any Yank accents can be accounted for by claiming they are the descendents of American bunnies who came over to fight Hitler with Eisenhower eighty generations before.

John DiFool
03-28-2015, 07:10 AM
I'm very cynical in general, and given the sissy-fication of the entertainment world over the last 20 years I can't help but cringe to think how watered-down a treatment it would be given today. But who knows, it might have a chance if made by the BBC.

I see what you did there. [My emphasis] :D

Freudian Slit
03-28-2015, 09:32 AM
The original did a really good job of portraying the rabbits and environment realistically. It would be good to see them even more realistic.

There was a remake in 1999 but that reduced them to a more cartoon look (http://wall.alphacoders.com/big.php?i=436844).

Oh yes, and didn't they make Blackberry into a female? (Sigh!)

G0sp3l
03-28-2015, 10:16 AM
Remakes aren't dangerous.

I'd like to see it. Give my daughter another shot at it. She went tharn trying to read it and gave up.

Jophiel
03-28-2015, 10:33 AM
The original did a really good job of portraying the rabbits and environment realistically. It would be good to see them even more realistic.

There was a remake in 1999 but that reduced them to a more cartoon look (http://wall.alphacoders.com/big.php?i=436844).
Was that a remake of the film? I thought it was more of a short-lived series of additional stories aimed for younger audiences (and unrelated to Tales From Watership Down). I never saw it though, just remember when they started making it.

GuanoLad
03-28-2015, 07:04 PM
Was that a remake of the film? I thought it was more of a short-lived series of additional stories aimed for younger audiences (and unrelated to Tales From Watership Down). I never saw it though, just remember when they started making it.You may be right, I didn't see it either. All I knew was Richard Briers was back but not as Fiver.

delphica
03-28-2015, 09:49 PM
There's nothing wrong with the original Watership Down film! Okay, I actually haven't seen it in years so I have no idea how well it's held up, but wow, that was a great film. It was really bloody.

I guess in some ways I'm intrigued to see how they would do it today with CGI ... but my expectations for capturing the intensity of the book in the same way as the original film are not high. I would be more enthusiastic if it were a mini-series that let the creators include all the side stories that got dropped from the original movie.

Locrian
03-28-2015, 09:54 PM
This is one of my all time favorite books and I hope it's not as tragedy like the animated film. Basically a long Art Garfunkel video. I was always hoping the folks who made "Babe" would jump to make WD.

Your Great Darsh Face
03-29-2015, 02:44 AM
Remakes aren't dangerous.

Heh.

pseudograph
03-29-2015, 08:35 AM
The original did a really good job of portraying the rabbits and environment realistically. It would be good to see them even more realistic.

There was a remake in 1999 but that reduced them to a more cartoon look (http://wall.alphacoders.com/big.php?i=436844).

Glad I missed the 1999 version. That just looks... wrong.

APB
03-29-2015, 09:28 AM
It's being done by the BBC so I assumed it would be a televised film and paid for by taxes; no ticket sales required. Or maybe the BBC does cinema and my American brain never picked up on it.

The BBC is actually one of the big players in the British film industry (http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfilms). Some projects developed for television end up getting cinema releases or vice versa. It is not as if made-for-TV films have quite the same connotations in the UK as they do in the US and the distinction between them and British art house films is, in terms of production, often very blurred.

Maserschmidt
03-29-2015, 10:04 AM
I was unaware of this movie until this thread, so we rented it last night on Amazon. The animation was all over the place but some of it was quite delightful, especially the bits with Frith and El-Ahrairah.

It did frighten my daughter somewhat, but on the whole I'm glad they kept the bloodiness intact.

Freudian Slit
03-29-2015, 10:32 AM
I was unaware of this movie until this thread, so we rented it last night on Amazon. The animation was all over the place but some of it was quite delightful, especially the bits with Frith and El-Ahrairah.

It did frighten my daughter somewhat, but on the whole I'm glad they kept the bloodiness intact.

How old is she? I've always wondered how old most kids were when they got into WD. I never read it until I was an adult, though I was somewhat aware of it as a kid.

Eddie F.
03-29-2015, 11:41 AM
I'm very cynical in general, and given the sissy-fication of the entertainment world over the last 20 years

(Slight hijack.)

Really? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7oXYgw0h_U) Sissy-fication? I tend to think not (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Blki-DISUis). But then maybe you were referring strictly to the film industry.

LawMonkey
03-29-2015, 12:48 PM
How old is she? I've always wondered how old most kids were when they got into WD. I never read it until I was an adult, though I was somewhat aware of it as a kid.

Personally, I read it in fifth grade.

The film has one of the most pointless deviations from the source material I've ever encountered: They add a doe to the original Sandleford band, and then kill her off on the way to WD so that they still need does (and can thus have the entire Efrafan plot).

Your Great Darsh Face
03-29-2015, 01:04 PM
That's silly. In the book, they had to go to Efrafa despite having the two farm does - two does weren't enough for the number of males they had, and the fighting would have been horrific.

Maserschmidt
03-29-2015, 01:11 PM
How old is she? I've always wondered how old most kids were when they got into WD. I never read it until I was an adult, though I was somewhat aware of it as a kid.

She's eleven. I probably should have warned her that these weren't your average cinematic bunny rabbits. :)

(of course, I also had no idea that they'd do that to Blackavar in the film...wtf? I liked that rabbit)

Hail Ants
03-29-2015, 08:20 PM
(Slight hijack.)

Really? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7oXYgw0h_U) Sissy-fication? I tend to think not (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Blki-DISUis). But then maybe you were referring strictly to the film industry.I mostly mean anything intended for young people. Particularly the Watership Down BBC TV series for example. I'm sure kids loved it, but to a fan of the book & film it's almost insulting.

I don't think it should be remade, the existing film stands on its own as an almost unique triumph in serious animated storytelling. Its good that it isn't 'Disney quality' animation because the heart & soul of the book was its detailed and enveloping characters & story. The animation could have been a little better, but in the end it wouldn't have mattered to me.

And for those unfamiliar with it, I'm still amazed that Adams' other novel, The Plague Dogs (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Plague_Dogs), got made into an animated film. A film 1000 times more dark and depressing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tp5mcc47xD8) than WD. More dark & depressing than even the original novel! Still worth watching, though definitely not with young kids.

Eddie F.
03-29-2015, 11:12 PM
I mostly mean anything intended for young people.

I get what you're saying, I really do. However, between the opening scenes of Finding Nemo and this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3NoDEu7kpg). I'd hardly say that the last twenty years or so of children's entertainment, even, has been all that tame.

Trust me, we'll always have our Bambi moments (thankfully).

Hail Ants
03-30-2015, 09:32 AM
I get what you're saying, I really do. However, between the opening scenes of Finding Nemo and this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3NoDEu7kpg). I'd hardly say that the last twenty years or so of children's entertainment, even, has been all that tame.

Trust me, we'll always have our Bambi moments (thankfully).Yeah, Finding Nemo was a nearly perfect film, but the violence of the opening scene was all off-camera (which given the tone & story was perfectly appropriate). The scariest part of that film was that freakin' angler fish! I was 40-something when I saw it and it creeped me the hell out.

For its release here in the states Watership Down got a PG from the MPAA, but that was 1978. Being how sensitive they seem to be about bloody violence today (literally, violence with blood) I wouldn't be surprised if they'd insist on cuts to avoid it getting an R!

Malthus
03-30-2015, 10:33 AM
I saw it in a theatre on a class trip - I was I think 9 years old, so grade 4 ... my guess is that the teachers had no idea what the story was about in advance, and simply thought an animated movie about cute rabbits *must* be for younger children. :D

Personally, I loved it at the time, and soon read the book, but it was a trifle ... intense ... for a class of kids that age.

Expression on some kid's faces comming out of that movie: :eek:

Sailboat
03-30-2015, 11:47 AM
I saw the 1978 version in the theater. So many mothers with small children filed in as the trailers ran! I knew what was coming, having read the book. In the opening sequence, one rabbit rips another's throat out, blood running down his chin.

There was a vast shuffling in the darkness, the sound of many mothers voting with their feet.

RTFirefly
03-30-2015, 12:44 PM
Not sure how I missed the 1978 film; I'm sure I'd already read Watership Down by then. (Thanks to this thread, I've already started reading it for the hrair+1st time - yeah, I know, that's kinda like infinity plus one in that hrair + 1 = hrair, but you get the idea.)

At any rate, I'm going to have to watch it - but without the Firebug, who is 7 and would definitely have nightmares about what's been described here.

Dung Beetle
03-30-2015, 12:49 PM
I've often thought that with CGI, this could be done well...here's hoping.

marshmallow
04-16-2015, 10:24 PM
I can understand the "muh childhood" reaction since there's a good chance it'll be terrible, but hey, at least a new generation will learn that rabbits are assholes.


And for those unfamiliar with it, I'm still amazed that Adams' other novel, The Plague Dogs (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Plague_Dogs), got made into an animated film. A film 1000 times more dark and depressing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tp5mcc47xD8) than WD. More dark & depressing than even the original novel! Still worth watching, though definitely not with young kids.

For some reason a movie about vivisection didn't become a cultural touchstone. I often see it on lists of underrated movies/animations, so it's not forgotten.

Don't Panic
04-16-2015, 10:56 PM
This thread made me realize that I had somehow never actually seen the movie. So I went ahead and rectified that.

And...

SPOILERS, I guess...

...I don't see why it's supposed to be so traumatizing. Sure, there's death. But everyone who snuffs it is a bad guy or a red shirt. None of the main characters actually die. Well, unless you count the one case of "happy and content, from old age" at the end.

I kept waiting for someone I cared about to die horribly. But, nope. Happy endings all round (unless I somehow missed something). Really, for it to be a proper tragedy, with some impact, at least Hazel or Bigwig needed to get it.

The thing is practically Disney. Weak sauce.

Seriously, am I the only one with this reaction?

Malthus
04-17-2015, 08:14 AM
This thread made me realize that I had somehow never actually seen the movie. So I went ahead and rectified that.

And...

SPOILERS, I guess...

...I don't see why it's supposed to be so traumatizing. Sure, there's death. But everyone who snuffs it is a bad guy or a red shirt. None of the main characters actually die. Well, unless you count the one case of "happy and content, from old age" at the end.

I kept waiting for someone I cared about to die horribly. But, nope. Happy endings all round (unless I somehow missed something). Really, for it to be a proper tragedy, with some impact, at least Hazel or Bigwig needed to get it.

The thing is practically Disney. Weak sauce.

Seriously, am I the only one with this reaction?

This depends entirely on the audience.

What got Watership Down its rep is that, to many unfamiliar with the story, it appeared to be a buccolic tale about cute rabbits in the sleepy English countryside. The animation style fits with this - very pretty hand-painted watercolour backdrops.

So a lot of people took very young children to see it.

It is this disconnect between the outward appearance and plot that made it a legend.

Sure, set it beside Game of Thrones it isn't so harsh. But the audience for Game of Thrones is expecting harsh.

Sure, the main characters don't die - but they hardly escape unharmed; each of them comes very close to death, often very traumatically (think Bigwig in the snare). This isn't surprising, since aparently the author was drawing on his WW2 experiences when he wrote the story. WW2 themes abound in the story - from the gassing of the warren (how many kids movies expressly depict mass murder by poision gas, I wonder? :D ), the collaborationist Vichy rabbits of Cowslip's "warren of complicity", through to the Nazi-like General Woundwort and his Efrafan SS (compete with organized rape, which is actually depicted! Albeit more by implication than graphically).

In short, many (out of a complete ignorance of the story) were expecting a cute story about bunnies suitable for six-year-olds, and not WW2-with-rabbits themes.

Hail Ants
04-17-2015, 01:10 PM
Blackavar, the rabbit that escaped from Efrafa (I think) is a small and very sympathetic character. Hence it was pretty upsetting when he sacrifices himself in a suicidal attack against Woundwort at the end (especially considering how weak he was and how easily Woundwort dispatches him). The thing that really wouldn't fly today is the amount of blood in the fight scenes. The MPAA has become very overly-sensitive to visible blood and I wouldn't be surprised if Watership got an R rating today because of it. Hell, Star Trek VI made Klingon blood purple because of this.

Don't Panic
04-17-2015, 01:21 PM
In short, many (out of a complete ignorance of the story) were expecting a cute story about bunnies suitable for six-year-olds, and not WW2-with-rabbits themes.
Right. OK, I suppose I'm with you.

Although, now I'm a bit confused about who the intended audience is, anyway. It seems a bit too adult for young children, but also a bit too "oh, see, he escaped the snare, it's all right, and here's a funny bird" for adults.

Don't Panic
04-17-2015, 01:31 PM
(BTW, that's a question, not criticism. OK, it's criticism. But it's mainly a question.)

Tamerlane
04-17-2015, 01:37 PM
Although, now I'm a bit confused about who the intended audience is, anyway. It seems a bit too adult for young children, but also a bit too "oh, see, he escaped the snare, it's all right, and here's a funny bird" for adults.

For the movie, hard to say. Here's the theatrical trailer (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZcHLpjiEdw) which to my surprise doesn't really soft-peddle the movie at all. But of course back then trailers were slightly less ubiquitous - judging by the tales of traumatized young'uns obviously not enough parents caught it ;). But it really didn't slot neatly into an at least American demographic - too adult for young children, too animated ( back when animation was still largely considered kiddy-fare ) for teens and adults. Might have fared better in Japan.

The book, though - have you read it? I'd consider it essentially an "all ages" book, barring the very youngest. It was pitched as a kids/young adult book ( and won the Carnegie Medal ), but really it works pretty well for adults IMHO. Bit of an instant classic, really. Pity in a way that Adams' best work was his first - he never really reached that height again.

Malthus
04-17-2015, 01:41 PM
Right. OK, I suppose I'm with you.

Although, now I'm a bit confused about who the intended audience is, anyway. It seems a bit too adult for young children, but also a bit too "oh, see, he escaped the snare, it's all right, and here's a funny bird" for adults.

Well, it is very popular as both book and movie, so it evidently has an audience; I myself saw the move (and liked it) as a kid, so not all kids were traumatized by it. :D I'd say it works best with older kids and teens. That is, ones who will be interested in the more sophisticated themes (the use of mythology, the different types of social oppression the heroes encounter, the nature of death, etc. ) and not horrified by wee bunnies ripping out throats, or being gassed to death.

The film was allegedly marketed in a somewhat schizophernic manner - there were apparently two different versions of poster art/video cover; one much darker, one more cartoony and family-oriented.

Malthus
04-17-2015, 01:44 PM
For the movie, hard to say. Here's the theatrical trailer (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZcHLpjiEdw) which to my surprise doesn't really soft-peddle the movie at all. But of course back then trailers were slightly less ubiquitous - judging by the tales of traumatized young'uns obviously not enough parents caught it ;). But it really didn't slot neatly into an at least American demographic - too adult for young children, too animated ( back when animation was still largely considered kiddy-fare ) for teens and adults. Might have fared better in Japan.

The book, though - have you read it? I'd consider it essentially an "all ages" book, barring the very youngest. It was pitched as a kids/young adult book ( and won the Carnegie Medal ), but really it works pretty well for adults IMHO. Bit of an instant classic, really. Pity in a way that Adams' best work was his first - he never really reached that height again.

Looking at wikipedia, the movie apparently fared very well in its native England, not well in America.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watership_Down_(film)

The film was an immediate success at the UK box office and has received a generally positive critical reception, with an 80% 'Fresh' rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and a rating of 67% from select critics.[8] The film was nominated for Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation in 1979. In 2004, the magazine Total Film named Watership Down the 47th greatest British film of all time and it was also ranked 15th in the "100 Greatest Tearjerkers".

Investors in the film reportedly received a return of 5,000% on their investment.[9]

Despite its success at the UK box office, the film underperformed at the US box office, earning only US$3 million against a budget of $4 million.

Malthus
04-17-2015, 01:48 PM
Here's a page showing the variety of posters/Video/DVD covers used to promote the movie:

https://www.themoviedb.org/movie/11837-watership-down/posters

Ranging from this:

https://image.tmdb.org/t/p/original/6ncDKxfghWnaRPgnBLym4Cr2nwY.jpg

To this:

https://image.tmdb.org/t/p/original/je9Jpw4HQaDqHsTAPkM9wNw3pXz.jpg

Zebra
04-17-2015, 03:10 PM
I wanted them to do this movie with real rabbits like the Babe movies.


I think Russel Crow could be an awesome Bigwig.

Tamerlane
04-17-2015, 03:16 PM
Ranging from this:

https://image.tmdb.org/t/p/original/6ncDKxfghWnaRPgnBLym4Cr2nwY.jpg

Awwww...cute widdle bunnies.

To this:

https://image.tmdb.org/t/p/original/je9Jpw4HQaDqHsTAPkM9wNw3pXz.jpg

:eek:

Yep, pretty schizophrenic :). Can't blame some parents for getting caught by surprise based on the first one.

Don't Panic
04-17-2015, 03:33 PM
I wanted them to do this movie with real rabbits like the Babe movies.


I think Russel Crow could be an awesome Bigwig.

Russell Crowe is a rabbit? :eek: I had no idea.

Sorry. Anyway...

I can see how the poster thing would happen. If I had to pick one word to describe the movie (or my impression of it, anyway), then "schizophrenic" wouldn't be a bad choice (as in the "split personality" sense, not the "hearing voices" sense).

I haven't read the book, but I'll be checking it out.

racepug
04-17-2015, 04:33 PM
It's one of my favorite books, and I own the movie on DVD. I, too, fear they will omit or tone down some of the more intense situations in the new movie, to be able to sell tickets to families. The animation in the original movie is beautiful, and I love the stylized El-Ahrairah sequences.My wife LOVES this story (as do I) but she wants to know why the rabbit prince goes by an Arabic-sounding name!

Malthus
04-17-2015, 04:45 PM
Russell Crowe is a rabbit? :eek: I had no idea.

Sorry. Anyway...

I can see how the poster thing would happen. If I had to pick one word to describe the movie (or my impression of it, anyway), then "schizophrenic" wouldn't be a bad choice (as in the "split personality" sense, not the "hearing voices" sense).

I haven't read the book, but I'll be checking it out.

Hey, the "hearing voices" sense would work, too - think of the character Fiver. :D

Freudian Slit
04-17-2015, 05:12 PM
Sure, the main characters don't die - but they hardly escape unharmed; each of them comes very close to death, often very traumatically (think Bigwig in the snare). This isn't surprising, since aparently the author was drawing on his WW2 experiences when he wrote the story. WW2 themes abound in the story - from the gassing of the warren (how many kids movies expressly depict mass murder by poision gas, I wonder? :D ), the collaborationist Vichy rabbits of Cowslip's "warren of complicity", through to the Nazi-like General Woundwort and his Efrafan SS (compete with organized rape, which is actually depicted! Albeit more by implication than graphically).



That's interesting! I had never thought about Cowsli's warren at collaborationist--though I guess that shifts the Hitler/fascist symbols to being man, not Woundwort and his warren. I remember reading that Adams said that even though many people have various interpretations of the book that he never intended any of it--that all he had in mind was an epic adventure. But it is cool to see what people have come up with.

Malthus
04-17-2015, 05:23 PM
That's interesting! I had never thought about Cowsli's warren at collaborationist--though I guess that shifts the Hitler/fascist symbols to being man, not Woundwort and his warren. I remember reading that Adams said that even though many people have various interpretations of the book that he never intended any of it--that all he had in mind was an epic adventure. But it is cool to see what people have come up with.

I think the only part that is "word of god" from the author is that he based the personality of his characters on his officers in the Army during WW2.

http://www.neatorama.com/2012/05/18/10-facts-you-might-not-know-about-watership-down/

The rest is all extrapolation on the part of the viewer ... but it is pretty reasonable, given the WW2-era experiences that inspired the story, to think of the gassing of the warren as inspired by the Holocaust, and Woundwort and his warren as inspired by the Nazis - both would have been familiar issues to a soldier who survived WW2.

I admit, the Cowslip's warren = Vichy is something I just made up. ;)

Don't Panic
04-17-2015, 05:26 PM
I admit, the Cowslip's warren = Vichy is something I just made up. ;)
Keep doing that. It shows that you're thinking.

I remember reading that Adams said that even though many people have various interpretations of the book that he never intended any of it--that all he had in mind was an epic adventure.
I always want to slap authors who say things like that, because it seems to make some people think "Oh, I'll just turn my brain off, then, and stop talking about this, since none of my perfectly valid analysis was intented".

If it's in the book, it's in the book. Who cares if it was intended?

(Um. Sorry. Personal berserk button. I'll take my rabbit and go now.)

Tamerlane
04-17-2015, 06:51 PM
Remakes aren't dangerous.

Oh, hey - I just got this. Clever :).

bobkitty
04-17-2015, 07:23 PM
For some reason a movie about vivisection didn't become a cultural touchstone. I often see it on lists of underrated movies/animations, so it's not forgotten.

We showed Plague Dogs as a double feature with Watership Down advertised as "Warm Fuzzy Animal Night" for the SciFi/Fantasy group I ran in college. :D

LawMonkey
04-17-2015, 07:24 PM
I remember reading that Adams said that even though many people have various interpretations of the book that he never intended any of it--that all he had in mind was an epic adventure.

I'm willing to take Adams at his word that he never intended any of it as allegory; as evidence, I'll note that I don't think I've ever seen a proposed single allegorical interpretation that self-consistently addresses all of the various plot threads without more or less stretching. (For example, the horror of the gas at Sandleford seems to be far more reminiscent of the experiences of Western Front troops in the Great War; gas wasn't a feature of the Second World War, militarily. Perhaps this is only because we have first hand accounts of trench gassing survivors; I don't believe anyone survived to give us a first hand account of the showers.)

That said, Richard Adams was spinning a yarn from his own imagination and his own experiences. It'd be far more remarkable if you couldn't draw parallels between the adventures of the Watership Down rabbits and human events.

So far as it goes, I think the most obvious theme gets overlooked in the rush to find parallels to Fascism or world wars: Empathy for our fellow creatures. I don't know exactly where Richard Adams stood on "animal rights" in the PETA sense; generally, he strikes me as a practical chap, who understands that sometimes we're going to rub up against other living things in ways that aren't entirely pleasant, and in those cases, our needs, ultimately, come first. But he clearly cared for animals, and thought them worthy of our respect and understanding; Watership Down does nothing if not give you some idea of what a rabbit's eye perspective of the world, and humans' role in it, might be.

Anyway, ramble done.

Fluffy PickleSniffer
04-18-2015, 07:12 PM
I have an audio book version of Watership Down as well as the book. In the audio version, there's an intro where Richard Adams explains how he used to tell stories to the kids when they were going on drives in the car, to entertain them. And every time they'd get in the car, he'd pick up the story where he left off, or add another part to it. He said that's where Watership Down was "born" - in the car. And the kids pushed and pushed over the years to have him write it down and make a book out of it, so he finally did, enlarging the story as he went. Been a while since I've listened, so I don't remember all the details. It was told in the middle of a rambling intro that I kind of half-tuned out. But I thought that was kind of neat so it's stuck with me. :)

Malthus
04-20-2015, 09:10 AM
I'm willing to take Adams at his word that he never intended any of it as allegory; as evidence, I'll note that I don't think I've ever seen a proposed single allegorical interpretation that self-consistently addresses all of the various plot threads without more or less stretching. (For example, the horror of the gas at Sandleford seems to be far more reminiscent of the experiences of Western Front troops in the Great War; gas wasn't a feature of the Second World War, militarily. Perhaps this is only because we have first hand accounts of trench gassing survivors; I don't believe anyone survived to give us a first hand account of the showers.)

That said, Richard Adams was spinning a yarn from his own imagination and his own experiences. It'd be far more remarkable if you couldn't draw parallels between the adventures of the Watership Down rabbits and human events.

So far as it goes, I think the most obvious theme gets overlooked in the rush to find parallels to Fascism or world wars: Empathy for our fellow creatures. I don't know exactly where Richard Adams stood on "animal rights" in the PETA sense; generally, he strikes me as a practical chap, who understands that sometimes we're going to rub up against other living things in ways that aren't entirely pleasant, and in those cases, our needs, ultimately, come first. But he clearly cared for animals, and thought them worthy of our respect and understanding; Watership Down does nothing if not give you some idea of what a rabbit's eye perspective of the world, and humans' role in it, might be.

Anyway, ramble done.

I don't think it is so much an "allegory" as it is that he drew from his own experiences and the times he lived through - it is, for example, "word of god" that he patterned the personality of his characters on the officers he served with in the army.

It is not too much of a stretch to see themes from WW2 era in the story - the gas killing not so much Western Front in WW1, as Nazi extermination of "undesireables" in WW2.

That said, there is no need for it to be a deliberate "allegory". If anything, the book was patterned - in part - on the idea of "hero's quest" he took from Campbell's study of mythology - this isn't a very significant speculation, because in the book at least he started chapters with quotations, many from his book, and the author has allegedly acknowledged that the book was inspired in part by it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hero_with_a_Thousand_Faces

Of course, this would make Fiver the "hero" ... ;)

Hail Ants
04-20-2015, 05:20 PM
One of the things that made the film adaptation so near-perfect was because they didn't hit you over the head hard with allegories. I saw the film first when I was around 15 or 16, and read the novel after. I remember that in the book after they free Bigwig from the snare at Cowslip's warren Fiver (or Hazel) gives a soliloquy explaining it. How the rabbits there are allowed to live in safety & comfort in exchange for accepting that some of them will die every so often (kind of an Eloi & Morlock dystopian society). But in the film this isn't stated outright, they just realize they must leave. But the book's reason is the same conclusion I came to when I first watched the film, and it was satisfying to see both that I was right, and that they didn't have to spoon-feed it to you.

RTFirefly
04-21-2015, 09:45 AM
Remakes aren't dangerous.

Oh, hey - I just got this. Clever :).I didn't notice there was anything to 'get' until you mentioned that.

Then instant :smack:, of course. Woundwort! :)

Your Great Darsh Face
04-21-2015, 09:54 AM
This depends entirely on the audience.

What got Watership Down its rep is that, to many unfamiliar with the story, it appeared to be a buccolic tale about cute rabbits in the sleepy English countryside. The animation style fits with this - very pretty hand-painted watercolour backdrops.

So a lot of people took very young children to see it.

It is this disconnect between the outward appearance and plot that made it a legend.

Sure, set it beside Game of Thrones it isn't so harsh. But the audience for Game of Thrones is expecting harsh.

Sure, the main characters don't die - but they hardly escape unharmed; each of them comes very close to death, often very traumatically (think Bigwig in the snare).

And in fact Bigwig nearly dies twice - he's in an awful state after Woundwort has finished with him and he says he is done fighting for good. Hazel gets hit by a shotgun and is always slightly lame afterwards, while Fiver is a little odder for the rest of his life after the war (Bigwig states that in his opinion Fiver has paid more dearly for their victory than he did).

As for the extermination of Sandleford Warren, red-shirts they may all be but the description of the gassing of the warren certainly isn't all sunshine and roses (very traumatic in the film as I remember when the rabbits are getting jam-packed into the blocked exit tunnels).

BrainGlutton
04-21-2015, 11:18 AM
ISTM the only way to improve on the 1987 version is to make the rabbits nine feet long and carnivorous. With poison-barbed tentacles.

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