Novel Written by Richard Adams (1972)

Film Adaptation by Martin Rosen (1978)

I have recently had the pleasure of reading Richard Adams’ 1978 novel Watership Down, and have decided that it is now among my top-three favorite novels of all time. I highly recommend reading the novel and then watching this beautifully done animation. Thanks for watching!

Richard Adams was an English novelist and writer of the books Watership DownShardik, and The Plague Dogs. Adams originally began telling the story that would become Watership Down to his two daughters on a long car trip. They eventually insisted that he publish it as a book. He began writing in 1966, taking two years to complete it. In 1972, after four publishers and three writers’ agencies turned down the manuscript, Rex Collings agreed to publish the work. The book gained international acclaim almost immediately for reinvigorating anthropomorphic fiction with naturalism. In 1974, two years after Watership Down was published, Adams became a full-time author.

Watership Down is a survival and adventure novel set in southern England, around Hampshire. The story features a small group of rabbits. Although they live in burrows in their natural wild environment, they are anthropomorphized, possessing their own culture, language, proverbs, poetry, and mythology. Evoking epic themes, the novel follows the rabbits as they escape the destruction of their warren and seek a place to establish a new home, encountering perils and temptations along the way.

The British animated adventure-drama film adaptation of Watership Down was released in 1978 and was written, produced, and directed by Martin Rosen and based on the 1972 novel by Richard Adams. It was financed by a consortium of British financial institutions and was distributed by Cinema International Corporation in the United Kingdom.

It features the voices of John Hurt, Richard Briers, Harry Andrews, Simon Cadell, Nigel Hawthorne and Roy Kinnear, among others, and was the last film work of Zero Mostel, as the voice of Kehaar the gull. The musical score was by Angela Morley and Malcolm Williamson. Art Garfunkel’s hit song Bright Eyes was written by songwriter Mike Batt.

Animation Supervisor: Philip Duncan

Animation Director: Tony Guy

Senior Animators: Arthur Humberstone, George Jackson, Tony Guy, and Philip Duncan

Animators: Edric Raddage, Bill Littlejohn, Ruth Kissane, John Perkins, Ralph Ayres, Brian Foster, Chris Evans, Marie Szmichowska, Alan Simpson, Colin White, Doug Jensen, Bill Geach, Spud Houston, and Barrie Nelson

Walt Disney (1937)

The Old Mill is a 1937 Silly Symphony cartoon produced by Walt Disney, directed by Wilfred Jackson, scored by Leigh Harline, and released to theatres by RKO Radio Pictures on November 5, 1937. The film depicts the natural community of animals populating an old abandoned windmill in the country, and how they deal with a severe summer thunderstorm that nearly destroys their habitat. It incorporates the song “One Day When We Were Young” from Johann Strauss II’s operetta The Gypsy Baron.

Like many of the later Silly SymphoniesThe Old Mill was a testing ground for advanced animation techniques. Marking the first use of Disney’s multiplane camera, the film also incorporates realistic depictions of animal behavior, complex lighting and color effects, depictions of rain, wind, lightning, ripples, splashes and reflections, three-dimensional rotation of detailed objects, and the use of timing to produce specific dramatic and emotional effects. All of the lessons learned from making The Old Mill would subsequently be incorporated into Disney’s feature-length animated films, such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), which was released a month later, as well as Pinocchio (1940), Fantasia (1940) and Bambi (1942).

In 2015, the United States Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

I hope you enjoy The Old Mill as much as I do!