From a warren far, far away over the hills and through the woods comes this enchanting episode of the Popzara Podcast, led by chief rabbit Nathan Evans and fellow member of their Owsla, Nia Bothwell, to discuss both the 1978 and Netflix remake of Richard Adams’ classic rabbit fantasy novel Watership Down. Joining them is none other than Kevin from popular YouTube Channel StoryDive, who recently did just that with a comprehensive video comparing and contrasting both adaptations. It’s pretty great and you should totally watch it.
Together, Nate, Nia and Kevin discuss the impact of death and survival in not just Watership Down but other animated children’s classics, including Don Bluth’s The Secret of NIHM, the 1973 Charlotte’s Web and others. Martin Rosen’s original film has gained a reputation for showcasing the brutal reality facing rabbits living in the wild, and for its refusal to shy away from presenting the more violent scenes from Adams’ novel. By contrast, Netflix’s miniseries, despite its expanded runtime, deviates enough to earn an entirely different reputation of its own.
Come for the rabbits…stay for the nostalgia! Our heroes deep dive into many animated classics from the golden age of the 1970s and 1980s, a strange period when “parental guidance” in children’s films was more wishful thinking than wish fulfillment. Pay attention and you’ll learn the surprising histories of the original Hobbit/Lord of the Rings films, how the death of Optimus Prime in Transformers made an entire generation cry, and even the undeniable influence of the King of Monsters him/herself, Godzilla. Lots of Godzilla and Japanese culture talk here, folks.
Can they successfully segue from rabbits to Rocky? Did gentle folk music really help inspire the terrifying images in Watership Down and several Jim Henson classics? Can modern animated films compete with the best of the past? They can when studios like Pixar and Laika turn out their best. They may not be the nightmare fuel of generations past, but there’s still hope that future films can move us when it counts.