Director: Martin Rosen
Cast: John Hurt, Richard Briers, Ralph Richardson (VOICES)
Release Date: Now Available on Criterion Collection Blu-Ray & DVD
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 9.5/10
Disc Rating: 9.5/10
A group of rabbits flee their doomed warren and face many dangers to find and protect their new home.
Based on the acclaimed novel of the same name by Richard Adams, ‘Watership Down’ is an emotional, riveting and downright beautiful film that even after so many years still holds up admirably as one of the defining animated films of our time. While many thought it impossible to properly adapt Adams’ novel to film, Martin Rosen (who wrote for the screen and directed) managed to deliver what many now refer to as one of the best adaptations there is. Complimented by a gorgeous soundtrack and a talented voice cast including the likes of John Hurt, Richard Briers, Michael Graham Cox, Ralph Richardson and many more, ‘Watership Down’ is nothing short of an animated masterpiece and the tale of Hazel, Fiver, Bigwig and the rest of these rabbits and their painful struggle to find their place and survive will be one remembered for many more decades to come.
Martin Rosen’s animated gem ‘Watership Down’ arrives home on Blu-Ray with the Criterion treatment, looking and sounding better than it ever has before, featuring beautiful new high definition video and audio transfers. Fans of the movie will certainly want to make sure to pick up a copy of the Criterion Collection Blu-Ray release, the phenomenal high definition video and audio presentations in addition to plenty of great bonus content including a new interview with Martin Rosen created specifically for this release and more (more detailed information regarding the bonus content can be found in the special features section of the technical specification coverage below) make this a definite must own, and if you’ve never had the pleasure of this marvelous film before, I can’t imagine a better way (other than possibly a rare theatrical screening) to experience it for the first time.
The Criterion Collection Blu-Ray release of ‘Watership Down’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation representing the director’s preferred 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio. The following is a quote from inside the releases’ included booklet regarding the video transfer for those who would prefer some additional details:
This new high-definition digital transfer was created from the 35mm original camera negative at Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging in Burbank, California.
The video presentation looks pretty fantastic and while it may come as no surprise with Criterion’s track record, I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that this is easily the best this film has ever looked. The animation is sharp and detailed, looking spectacular down to the very edge of each frame, never with any issues or faults visible throughout, but retaining some of the grain from the source that only reminds the viewer just how well this film holds up after all of this time. Overall, this is a magnificent high definition video presentation that should certainly not disappoint fans of this fantastic animated treasure.
The Criterion Collection Blu-Ray release includes a Lossless Linear PCM stereo soundtrack. As with the video details above, the following is a quote from inside the releases’ included booklet regarding the audio transfer for those who would prefer some additional details:
The original stereo soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from a 35mm magnetic track. Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum, and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD, AudioCube’s integrated workstation, and iZotope RX 4.
This lossless stereo soundtrack sounds wonderful, beautifully complimenting the gorgeous soundtrack that adds so much to the overall experience of the film. The soundtrack (or score) and occasional action elements sound clean, sharp and even better than you would imagine, while never at any point causing the dialogue to become inaudible as a result of sharing the two channels with the other auditory activity. As a whole this is a more than capable and quite impressive lossless LPCM Stereo soundtrack that should be quite a treat for the fans.
The Criterion Collection Blu-Ray release of ‘Watership Down’ naturally includes a pretty healthy collection of supplemental material, including both new and old features. Included on the release is ‘Passion Project: Martin Rosen on Watership Down’ which runs approximately 16 minutes in length and consists of an interview that was conducted by the Criterion Collection in 2014 with Martin Rosen chronicling the difficult process of bringing this acclaimed novel to life. ‘A Movie Miracle: Guillermo Del Toro on Watership Down’ (approximately 12 minutes) is also included and features an interview with filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro (also conducted in 2014 by the Criterion Collection) wherein he talks about what makes ‘Watership Down’ such a unique work of animation art. Next we are treated to ‘Defining A Style’ which is a Featurette from 2005 that runs approximately 12 minutes in length and includes many key animators from the film recalling their painstaking work on this landmark project. The Blu-Ray release also includes detailed ‘Storyboards’ which can be viewed on screen during the film, chronicling the entirety of the storyboard’s for the film from start to end. Lastly we have the Trailer for the movie and the usual included booklet (although this one folds out) featuring an essay by comic book writer Gerard Jones.
*Please note that the above images are taken from the Blu-Ray and resized. They additionally will suffer quality loss as a result of .jpg compression. Larger versions of each image can be viewed by clicking on the image. All images and content included on this Blu-Ray release are the property of their respective owners.