Netflix dropped its four-episode adaptation of Richard Adams’ dystopian classic Watership Down on Christmas Day.
The BBC co-production was generally well-reviewed by critics, who praised the all-star voice cast (led by James McAvoy, John Boyeg,a and Tom Wilkinson) and the latest version of the tale of a warren of rabbits on their run for their lives in the English countryside and searching for a new home.
Some fans have complained online about the limited series’ computer animation style, which is sharply different than the beloved 1978 Watership Down animated movie. But Watership Down director Noam Murro tells EW that the CG animation adds another level. “CG animation allows you to get closer to the characters in a way that I don’t you couldn’t have done before, emotionally and action-wise,” Murro said. “There’s a great canvas you can play with, animation really allows you to choose the aesthetic.
Another divergence was the Netflix version was less bloody than the original film — which was often been described as a traumatic viewing experience for kids.
“I have to say that one of the most important things to me is that the book is a violent book and it has to be that,” Murro said. “How do we teach our children about violence in a way that’s responsible and not gratuitous? Part of what I was very careful about doing is making sure the violence serves the story and is never gratuitous. I never think blood itself should be a goal. That was a conscious decision because the book is not about blood, it’s about violence and oppression and home and friendship and all these things. But if you came out of the movie thinking, ‘It was bloody’ than you missed the point. What I hope is the viewer is going to learn is about human nature, which includes violence and anger, and all these themes. It does take violence seriously and deals with it in a serious way. But we’re not in the business of creating a horror movie, we’re in the business of telling a literary masterpiece responsibly.”
Watership Down is currently streaming on Netflix.