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Watership Down (1978)

Movie review by
Brian Camp, Common Sense Media
Watership Down (1978) Movie Poster Image
A serious animated drama with bunnies.
  • PG
  • 1978
  • 72 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 32 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 77 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

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.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
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... Continue reading
Parent of a 7 and 10 year old Written byMattmchugh January 27, 2011

Beautiful, engaging story -- but very realistic death and violence

This is an excellent adaptation of Richard Adams' masterpiece novel about rabbits trying to survive in the English countryside. The beauty of both the boo... Continue reading
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 b... Continue reading
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 to... Continue reading

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.

Talk to your kids 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

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