In praise of blood-thirsty rabbits

Honk if you’re Hrududu…

October 20, 2008

Movies like "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" may have had a more immediate impact on my geek-adled brain, but no film gave me such a visceral sucker punch as the animated adaptation of Richard Adams’ novel "Watership Down."

Since I was 6 or 7 when I first saw it, naturally I hadn’t yet read the book (which, if you haven’t yet, you really should). All I saw was the cover of the Beta Max box in 1982 which had bunnies on it. And bunnies are cute, playful, harmless little critters, right?

Not in Adams’ world, where the amount of blood spilled onscreen drowned out any notions of cotton-tailed gaiety.

You can imagine my shock when I nearly peed myself (apparently we have a fixation with water works this week) in fear after watching the movie. Re-watching it now it’s a brilliant translation of the vicious, socio-political themes which coursed through the book. And the animation is just lovely and, yes, brutal at times. Although the less said about Art Garfunkel’s castrated "Bright Eyes" song the better.

But back then, I don’t think I slept for a week. And that cross pollination of dread and wonder has stuck with me and probably fueled a lot of the things I’m into today: twisted movies, morose yet beguiling music, left-of-center animation, and art that is far from beautiful…but no less mesmerizing.

The movie turned 30 on Sunday, so this my belated shout out: Thanks you weirdo rabbits, for making me the freak I am today. Fittingly enough I found a clip that (correctly in my eyes) reconsiders "Watership Down" the movie from the viewpoint of an 8-year-old me.

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