If the Easter Bunny was less than generous with you this morning, you may want to get some revenge by throwing on the ultra-dark animated film Watership Down at some point today. This riveting (and more than just a little bit disturbing) animated classic from 1978 follows a small band of brave rabbits as they undertake a perilous journey to find a new home after their warren begins teetering on the brink of destruction. As they head for the alleged safety of the titular area, the travelers overcome many obstacles, not the least of which is a fascist state of fellow rabbits led by a despotic ruler. Richard Adams’ best-selling novel comes to life in this feature that includes a top-notch cast, including John Hurt, Ralph Richardson, Denholm Elliott, and Zero Mostel.
A landmark moment in animation history that influenced subsequent films like Heavy Metal and When the Wind Blows, Watership Down is available from the Criterion Collection in a special edition that includes the following features:
New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed stereo soundtrack on the Blu-ray
New interview with director Martin Rosen
New interview with filmmaker Guillermo del Toro about the film’s importance in animation history
Picture-in-picture storyboards for the entire film (Blu-ray); four film-to-storyboard scene comparisons (DVD)
Defining a Style, a 2005 featurette about the film’s aesthetic
PLUS: An essay by comic book writer Gerard Jones
Watership Down most definitely isn’t a cartoon romp, but if you like envelop-pushing movies with messages about life, death and our shared place in the universe, it has more than got you covered..no April Fooling.