Watership Down


Richard Adams' 1972 novel of leporine self-determination—and how brutish and short a rabbit's life can be—gets a CGI-enhanced update courtesy of Netflix and the BBC, along with an impressive voice cast that includes Ben Kingsley, James McAvoy, and John Boyega.

The four-part miniseries hits all the monomyth beats—Watership Down is The Odyssey, and Lost, and a thousand other stories. The heroic rabbits are cast out from their home and must overcome obstacles both physical and moral to find a new one. Led by the wise-beyond-his-years Hazel (McAvoy), the warren resists the promise of an easy life with a religious cult that willingly trades lives for a farmer's protection. They also battle an authoritarian rabbit regime led by the despotic General Woundwort (Kingsley).

The CGI rabbits look a bit clunky at times—particularly when they are running, and rabbits run a lot—but the miniseries captures the universal allure of autonomy, and depicts the constant struggle required to maintain it.

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  1. How does it compare to the anything but clunkily animated 1979 film?

  2. We will have to wait and see, but I completely forgot about the 1978 film. Just looked it up. It’s on Amazon and Google for rent. I saw it years ago but don’t remember much. I will probably rent it after I watch the newer version on Netflix. FYI, if any of you want to read really gritty novels about humanity ina f’d up pre iron society, read Shardik or Maya, also by Richard Adams. Neither of those books is for kids.

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  4. The trailer seems far too “humans are evil, nature is pure and wonderful and harmonious, and humans are a virus destroying the Earth” for my liking, but then again what movie or TV show isn’t like that nowadays.

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