So I know I have been tending to talk a lot about Watership Down lately, but I have something I just have to get off my chest.
It’s regarding the 2017 remake.
I’ve been reading a lot on the remake lately and, while most details at this point are vague at best, there’s one detail that I cannot get off of my mind and it’s that they are planning to tone down the violence in an attempt to make it kid-friendly!
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Stop right there. This is the idea that has been bothering me for the last hour – and that’s just in today’s timeframe! I’ve been mulling over this for a couple of months. Why in God’s – um, Frith’s – name would you tone down the violence of a war story and deny yourself the opportunity to show the sometimes-brutal realism that made this story great in the first place? Why deny yourself the opportunity to teach today’s children that, while nature is cruel, it is beautiful in spite of the cruelty? Notice how I cannot write that sentence without the word “cruel”.
Because, yes, some acts committed by characters in this epic are cruel. Some characters suffer terrible pain, but learn from this pain and in the meantime the viewer sees that pain can teach lessons of great value. And the only cost is some bloody violence that, while it may make an impression on a really young mind (say, a five year old) that could be lasting, I think viewers older than ten could see it and the impression not be as strong for them. I could be wrong on the numbers, but my point is that I think people are overreacting to the first film’s violence.
Overall, despite a rather melancholy feel that accompanied the 1978 film, Watership Down is a story that is great because it exposes the viewer to a reality that we can’t shelter them from forever. I honestly feel that the parents were more traumatized by the film than their children!
After channel five aired the film on Easter Sunday and the complaints started rolling in, I couldn’t help but laugh. Why? Because the complaints were all about the impact the movie had on the adults – not their children – as it took to the screen once again. Not one parent complained that their child wept or saw something that they couldn’t stomach – no, the complaints were all centered on the older audience, teens being the youngest of the group, being horrified by a story that was never meant to be all fluffy and cute in the first place!
I mean, honestly, toning down the violence of this story would take away a crucial part of the action and in the end not show what the book is really about.
Despite all of this, I’m still planning to watch the new adaptation, but I doubt at this point that I’m going to like it. I really wish it would just air already so I can put my worries to rest and either praise it – or never watch it again. We shall see where this goes.