Remembering The 'Watership Down' Movie, Which Was Scarier Than Anyone Expected It To Be

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When the Watership Down animated movie based on Richard Adams's novel about rabbits first emerged on the British big screen in 1978, many parents thought it would be a fun family film. It received a "U" rating, which is equivalent to America's "G" rating, so parents gathered their kids for what they thought would be an innocent animated feature about a group of anthropomorphic rabbits on an adventure. Unfortunately, to many surprised movie attendees, the cinematic animation featured scenes of blood and gore along with beautiful portraits of nature and bunnies.

Why is the rabbit movie Watership Down such a terrifying movie for kids? The film (this list refers to the 1978 film, not the more recent 2018 BBC/Netflix version) is not based on a book for small children; Adams's 1972 novel is more appropriate for adults and older or mature children. The book is a survival tale, filled with dark folklore, danger, and deep suffering by animals attempting to save their home territory, which is being taken over by arms-toting humans who want to develop the land. When Watership Down made its way overseas, the film received a slightly more accurate "PG" rating, but somehow that still seemed too tame for a movie filled with graphic images of the mythical "Black Rabbit" and bloody bunnies fighting each other.