Chances are if you’re anything of a reader, you’ve worn through a copy of Richard Adams’ Watership Down in your day. The 1972 novel is one of the bestselling books of all time, and a true classic. What seems at first just like a nice story about a warren of rabbits quickly turns into a rather harrowing tale of survival, with a rich mythology that pulls from Greek and Hebrew tales of trial and exodus. Yes, it’s fantastic!
Now, we’re learning that Netflix, in a co-production with the BBC, will be releasing a CG-driven Watership Down miniseries sometime next year. According to Variety, the four-part series will feature the voice talents of James McAvoy (X-Men) as Hazel, Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max: Fury Road) as Fiver, Ben Kingsley (Iron Man 3) as General Woundwort, John Boyega (Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens) as Bigwig, Gemma Arterton (Hansel and Gretel) as Clover, Miles Jupp (The Thick of It) as Blackberry, Freddie Fox (Pride) as Captain Holly, Olivia Colman (The Night Manager) as Strawberry, and Anne-Marie Duff (Suffragette) as Hyzenthlay. A pretty hefty lineup!
The story has been adapted to film before, once in a well-received but pretty terrifying and dark 1978 version, and again as a TV series in 1999 that was more kid-friendly. It’s definitely a good sign that Tom Bidwell (writer for the excellent series My Mad Fat Diary) will be penning the script, and that the CG will be led by Fantastic Mr Fox’s Pete Dodd. It feels like it’s the right time to reboot the story in a new era of visual capabilities, which Disney’s recent Jungle Book has proven is reaching new heights when it comes to photo realism.
We’ll let you know more about the project when we know it, but in the meantime take a listen to Art Garfunkel’s song “Bright Eyes,” which he wrote for the 1978 film version of Watership Down:
Here’s the synopsis for the story:
Set in England’s Downs, a once idyllic rural landscape, this stirring tale of adventure, courage, and survival follows a band of very special creatures on their flight from the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their home. Led by a stouthearted pair of brothers, they journey forth from their native Sandleford Warren through the harrowing trials posed by predators and adversaries, to a mysterious promised land and a more perfect society.