First trailer for the BBC's 'Watership Down' remake provokes mixed opinions

Tom Butler
·Senior Editor
Bigwig and the Does’ escape is thwarted by Captain Campion. (BBC)
Bigwig and the Does’ escape is thwarted by Captain Campion. (BBC)

The BBC has released the first trailer for Watership Down, a new star-studded adaptation of the Richard Adams’ novel, and it’s fair to say that it’s triggered a lot of mixed emotions online.

Starring James McAvoy, Olivia Colman, Sir Ben Kingsley, Daniel Kaluuya, John Boyega, Nicholas Hoult, Gemma Arterton, Peter Capaldi and many more, Watership Down will be aired on BBC One in two feature-length parts over Christmas.

Although images have already been released for the CG-animated series, this is the first time we’ve seen actual footage from the show, and not everyone is impressed.

Watch the first trailer below.

Most people will instantly compare this new version to Martin Rosen’s haunting 1978 adaptation of the same name, but it’s clear from this first look at the £20m-budgeted event series that it’s a very different beast.

The animation style has been updated from hand drawn 2D to computer generated 3D animation, and many people are complaining online that the finished effect looks like sub-par video game graphics.

The 1978 film celebrates its 40th anniversary this year and its shadow looms large over the new version. Starring John Hurt, Richard Briers, Nigel Hawthorne, and Roy Kinnear, and featuring Art Garfunkel’s ‘Bright Eyes‘ on the soundtrack, it has traumatised generation after generation of children who watched it thinking it was going to be a safe Disney-style animated film.

However, it’s a harrowing film, red in tooth and claw, that never shies away from the brutal realities facing animals in the wild, and many people are questioning whether it’s suitable family entertainment for Christmas time.

It’s not all doom and gloom though and many people are (Watership) down with this new take, and can’t wait to see it over the festive period. The show is a co-production with Netflix who will carry it for the rest of the world, albeit in a slightly adjusted four-part version.

Oscar-winning pop star Sam Smith has recorded ‘Fire On Fire’, an original song, that will serve as the theme to the forthcoming animated mini-series.

Watership Down is coming to BBC One this Christmas.

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