Personally, the book exudes a troubling, eerie calm that excites:
"Oh, Hazel! This is where it comes from! I know now - something very bad! Some terrible thing - coming closer and closer." He began to whimper with fear. "What sort of thing - what do you mean? I thought you said there was no danger?"
"I don't know what it is," answered Fiver wretchedly... "Oh, Hazel, look! The field! It's covered with blood!" [Watership Down, Puffin Books (1973), Page 19.]
The animated movie was made as a result of the modern classic, heroic fantasy novel by British writer Richard Adams. It is the odyssey of a group of rabbits escaping the destruction of their warren (home) as they struggle to seek another. Evoking epic themes, Watership Down (1971), takes its name from the rabbit's destination, a hill in the north of Hampshire, England.
The lyrics suggest similar feelings of the fear within:
"Is it a kind of dream, Floating out on the tide, Following the river of death downstream... And nobody seems to know where you go. And what does it mean? Bright eyes, Burning like fire.... How can the light that burned so brightly, Suddenly burn so pale?
Bright eyes... Wandering over the hills unseen... There's a high wind in the trees, A cold sound in the air... And where do you start, Oh, into the dark?" [Bright Eyes - Art Garfunkel/Mike Batt]
Bright Eyes (image/record cover) was used in the soundtrack of the movie and considered the theme song of the film. The track also appears on Garfunkel's fourth studio album, Fate for Breakfast from 1979. *Although it did poorly in the US, the song sold a million copies in the UK that year, making it the biggest selling single.
One interpretation of the lyrics, when book and song combine, discusses the transition into death highlighted by rabbit Hazel's close shave when he is shot and then years later when he departs and his body enters the spirit world. The journey of life puntuated by trouble and fear?
The book's been read time and again. It's recommended script-fare for all, including the older children. The song? Wonder why it didn't do too well in the US? Definitely not for the kids. I love both the book and the song; haven't seen the movie though.
Comments about Bright Eyes:
1. A beautiful song - it is probably the saddest song of all time - its about death and trying to understand it because none of us know anything about life or death, or why we are here and where we go or if we go anywhere...
2. Bright eyes was not written for 'Watership Down'. Mike Batt composed it about his father dying of cancer. 'Bright Eyes' refers to the strange look in his father's eyes brought on by pain killers. I suppose that the 'suddenly burn so pale' must be when he finally died. The song itself is one of my favorites. Very emotional.
3. Great song. Great movie. Great book. There's really not much you can say about a song like this one. When I was little, I used to cry at the part of the movie when they played it...
Much for discussion here. Anyone?
This posting is for Perry Nodelman.
Image 1: http://rateyourmusic.com/
*Book/Song Information: Wikipedia.
Original article: Andy Lim.
(For those interested in the book thematically, one aspect is its discussion about individual rights and the corporate state. Familiar huh?)