From the director of Cube, Vincenzo Natali…

Apparently it’s going to be a television miniseries.

For more information, click here.

The original film adaptation of Watership Down severely abrdiges the story, but considering that it would be impossible to tell the whole story in a two hour period, Martin Rosen did a marvelous job of capturing the personalities, the tone, and the meaning of Richard Adams’s masterpiece.

The animation was gorgeously naturalistic and honest about the hard lives of wild animals… at times discomfortingly honest. I remember being shocked and fascinated, at ten years old, watching a hawk swoop down and carry off one of the characters, and then realizing that this was NOT the kind of movie in which the brave rabbits can mount some kind of rescue. I was even more surprised to see the rabbits fighting and ripping each others’ throats out.

But for all of its intense blood-and-guts reality, the film also served up some truly exhilarating moments, and some meditative passages that still haunt me and move me to tears when I revisit the film today. To most people, Art Garfunkel’s “Bright Eyes” is a sentimental song on easy-listening radio; for those of us who have seen the film, it’s a powerfully moving piece about death and mystery.

I’m not saying that the film shouldn’t be re-made. Indeed, it would be great if someone told the whole story. But it’s got to be told carefully, without any “Disney-fication.” We don’t need a cast of famous voices. We don’t need pop culture references or a wisecracking sidekick. We don’t need a pop-star soundtrack or a re-location to America. I care about this story even more than Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, and I’ll be nervous about the project until it’s delivered.

Please… Mr. Natali. If you take this on, be very, very gentle with it. It’s a rarity among animal stories, one that will burst like a balloon if anybody dares to mess with its spirit.

In the meantime, everyone else should read the book BEFORE they give anyone a chance to spoil it for them. For me, it’s almost as important and compelling as The Lord of the Rings, even if it’s “worldview” is a bit bleaker.

Also in the works… BEOWULF, with Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, and Robin Wright Penn. Strangely enough, I have NO misgivings about another version of this story. My apologies, Christopher Lambert.

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