To celebrate the 40th year anniversary of the animated film Watership Down, Dr Catherine Lester, Lecturer in Film and Television Studies at the University of Birmingham is hosting an event dedicated to academic discussion of the 1978 film.
The Legacy of Watership Down: Animals, Adaptation, Animation takes place at the University of Warwick on Saturday 10th November. Based on the novel by Richard Adams, Watership Down is the tale of a group of rabbits who flee their doomed warren in search of a new home and meet a variety of strange and dangerous animals along the way. The animated film version of Watership Down is now most widely remembered for the famous tear-jerker song ‘Bright Eyes’ by Art Garfunkel and for its ability to traumatise unsuspecting child viewers with its surprising levels of rabbit-on-rabbit violence. Last year, for example, Channel 5 faced backlash for broadcasting the film on the afternoon of Easter Sunday. However, the film has a ‘U’ certificate from the BBFC, indicating its suitability for all ages.
Commenting on the event Dr Catherine Lester said:
"This academic symposium brings together leading scholars and industry professionals in the fields of animation, film and literary studies to explore Watership Down’s reputation and its controversial relationship with violence. We’re going to consider questions such as how is the ‘U’ certificate justifiable, and would the film receive such a rating if released today? Speakers will also think beyond this topic to draw much-needed attention to the film’s artistry, the financial issues that it faced during production, the wider impact that it has had on the representations of animals and nature on screen, and its continued political relevance that arises from its allegorical portrayal of the dangers of fascism."
With a new mini-series adaptation of Watership Down to be released by the BBC and Netflix scheduled for Christmas Day, this event is the perfect time to revisit the animated film and reflect upon why this version of the story still resonates so deeply in British popular culture.
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