Where were you on 4 August 2022? It was a Thursday so you were probably doing nothing. Nobody does anything on a Thursday except wait for the incoming Friday so they can start planning how many Jägerbombs they’re planning to neck before starting on the pints.
I do not remember what I was doing on this very important date. A Thursday? Probably playing some video game nonsense, eating a soufflé and had a shower before going to bed. I do love a soufflé on a Thursday. The Thursday soufflé I call it. Sometimes I eat it in the shower to feel like a king. I think we’re getting off the point here though.
This is a very important date in history and I know this not just because I’m writing this post and it’s my idea to do so. A legion of children, both young and old, cried into the stars on this day because after forty-four years the children’s animated film ‘Watership Down’ was finally reclassified as a PG.
You might think this is not a big deal, especially if you’ve never seen it. Last year I read the book and I can tell you that it is just as harrowing as the film. When I was a kid I taped a copy off the TV because that’s what you did. “This sounds interesting,” I told myself as I loaded the VHS in and pressed record. Back in 1978 when it was originally made, it was classed as a ‘U’ for universal meaning anyone with two eyes and a pair of legs could watch it. You could watch it as much as you wanted. For those not in the know, ‘Watership Down’ tells the story of a group of rabbits who move away from their home just as the evil humans destroy it to make space to build more houses. They then go on an adventure to find a safe place to live out in the wilderness of the English countryside. What could be so scary about that? The author, Richard Adams, did not shy away from presenting nature in its original format i.e. brutal as fuck.
One rabbit gets caught in a trap and almost chokes to death on its own vomit and blood. They are hunted by all manner of predators, get shot at by humans and ripped apart from other rabbits. The main antagonist is called General Woundwort who treats his burrow as a dictatorship and kills anyone or anything that gets in his way. One of the main characters has terrifying visions of the future and goes into a kind of seizure whenever this happens; the reason the rabbits escape at the start is because of him and his nightmarish precognitive abilities. Towards the end of the film a dog gets loose and… well, you get the picture.
Tiny baby Ian watched all of this and always wondered why it was that the BBFC would let anyone see this when it was clearly meant for older audiences. I found a copy in the charity shop recently and I am going to force Reuben to watch it because it’s important. Is it a timeless story of heroism, adventure, friendship and not giving up despite the odds? Yes. Does it look a bit ropey but still have a lot of nicely animated bits? Yes. Does it have the voices of John Hurt and Richard Briers? Yes. These, however, are not the reasons why I’m making him watch it. He has to know the trauma that I felt because then he will thank me for not subjecting it to him as a child. I think it’s about time I got some recognition.