Prince with a thousand faces: shifting art-styles and the depiction of violence in Watership Down

Book chapter


Summers, S. 2023. Prince with a thousand faces: shifting art-styles and the depiction of violence in Watership Down. in: Lester, C. (ed.) Watership Down: Perspectives On and Beyond Animated Violence New York, NY Bloomsbury. pp. 176-190
Chapter titlePrince with a thousand faces: shifting art-styles and the depiction of violence in Watership Down
AuthorsSummers, S.
Abstract

Following its heavily stylised prologue, the first time we see a rabbit in Watership Down (1978) it is in extreme closeup, and depicted in a detailed and realistic art style. Then, as the ‘camera’ pulls back, the detail fades, leaving us with the less intricate style that will be used through the rest of the film. The deliberate juxtaposition created through this brief use of a hyperrealistic aesthetic draws attention to the degree to which the film’s typical rabbit designs are mediated in order to distance them somewhat from our lived reality.

In this chapter I will examine the film’s use of three distinct visual modes – the cartoonish opening sequence, the detailed closeup, and the default style – and the extent to which the film attempts to moderate its notorious violence by adjusting the realism of its imagery. Typically this serves to dampen its potentially horrific effects, although the results are not always so straightforward, with some of the films’ most shocking scenes appearing more detailed than the default style, heightening the onscreen gore.

I will also draw comparison to the 2018 BBC adaptation, highlighting the differences in its depiction of violence, and asking whether this can be linked to its more photorealistic visuals and its digital production methods.

Sustainable Development Goals4 Quality education
Middlesex University ThemeCreativity, Culture & Enterprise
Page range176-190
Book titleWatership Down: Perspectives On and Beyond Animated Violence
EditorsLester, C.
PublisherBloomsbury
Place of publicationNew York, NY
SeriesAnimation: Key Films/Filmmakers
ISBN
Hardcover9781501376993
Paperback9781501376962
Electronic9781501376979
Electronic9781501376986
Electronic9781501376955
Publication dates
Online17 Jan 2023
Print09 Feb 2023
Publication process dates
Accepted2022
Deposited29 Apr 2024
Output statusPublished
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.5040/9781501376955.0020
Related Output
Is part ofhttps://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/watership-down-9781501376993/
Is part ofhttps://doi.org/10.5040/9781501376955
LanguageEnglish
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