Watership Down Movie Poster Image

Watership Down



A serious animated drama with bunnies.
Popular with kids
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1978
  • Running Time: 72 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages
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Battles among rabbits and with other animals (and humans) result in bloodshed, serious injury, and occasional death. Frightening situations: Rabbit characters die onscreen. A dog attacks and kills several rabbits in the climax. There is a recurring character known as the Black Rabbit of Death.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that, although there are animated bunnies, this is no cartoon. Kids who watch this movie will see battles among rabbits and with other animals (and humans) that result in bloodshed, serious injury, and occasional death. Rabbit characters die onscreen. A dog attacks and kills several rabbits in the climax. There is a recurring character known as the Black Rabbit of Death.

What's the story?

This feature-length theatrical release based on Richard Adams's book, Watership Down follows a group of rabbits, led by Hazel (voiced by John Hurt), Bigwig, and the hyper-sensitive Fiver. They leave their endangered warren (earmarked for real estate development) in search of a new home and female rabbits with whom to mate. Their journey is laced with numerous obstacles, including a dog, a cat, rats, men, cars, birds of prey, and other rabbits. In the final stage of their quest, they find a secure habitat but incur the wrath of a militaristic band of rabbits led by the dictatorial General Woundwort. A deadly battle ensues as our heroes attempt to secure their new home.

Is it any good?


A rare British-produced animated feature, WATERSHIP DOWN is an original drama with realistic animation, sharp characterizations, and brutal honesty about the territorial imperative. This is a stellar alternative to the glitzy musical numbers, cutesy characters, sentimental excesses, and merchandisable sidekicks of Disney movies.

For older kids and adult fans, the story offers plenty of drama, suspense and action as the rabbits make their way through an idyllic landscape that turns out to be quite treacherous. It's all set against beautifully designed backgrounds and enacted by realistically drawn rabbits, all convincingly differentiated from each other. The superb voice acting is performed by a notable cast who treat their characters with as much gravity as they would Shakespearean roles. Complementing the drama is a music score that subtly and effectively accentuates the emotional twists and turns of the proceedings.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the film compares to the book. Which do you like better? Would you have done anything differently if you were making this film?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 1, 1978
DVD/Streaming release date:March 26, 2002
Cast:John Hurt, Richard Briers, Zero Mostel
Director:Martin Rosen
Studio:Warner Bros.
Topics:Book characters, Wild animals
Run time:72 minutes
MPAA rating:PG

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Adult Written byKuroKitten December 18, 2010

Bloody, and Highly Disturbing

I saw this movie when I was very young, being that it looked like it was a childs cartoon from the vhs cover. I was very wrong. I saw this probably when I was 5, and to this day when asked about the most disturbing movie I've seen, this instantly comes to mind. Seeing clips of the movie reminds me just how terrifying it is. PARENTS: This movie is based off a book written by a WWII veteran who wrote the book based on his time in the war. Trust me when I say this is NOT suitable for kids, in ANYWAY!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 14 years old Written byCrazyKaulitzWriter March 17, 2011


This movie was weird. It was very voilent, had lost of bloodshed, and kinda freaked me out. There's one scene that really, really unsettled me. Truth be told, I'd never reccomend this film to anyone with small children. It's just. . . Creepy.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 15 years old Written byCarFox July 12, 2011

Watch it.

This movie was one of my favorites when I was a kid. It's very violent, and definitely not for young kids, even though I watched it when I was about five because my parents thought it was a cartoon. I think the worst part is when one of the characters gets caught in a snare. He almost dies, but he ends up escaping. However, the imagery was very disturbing: the character started foaming and bleeding from the mouth and his eyes rolled back into his head. Another scene that was really disturbing is when one of the characters is telling the others about what happened to their warren, and it shows a bunch of rabbits trying to escape from their warren, only to find the tunnels blocked by the bodies of dead rabbits. Furthermore, this movie has great role models. The main character Hazel is a smart, diplomatic pacifist who only sends his followers into battle if absolutely necessary. Rather than starting an all-out war with General Woundwort, he proposes that they unite their two warrens for the good of all. Hazel always listens to the other rabbits and only occasionally dismisses his brother, who has prophetic powers. I don't believe that young children would get all of what happens in the movie, but it's still a great film.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence