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A group of rabbits flee their doomed warren and face many dangers to find and protect their new home.
[last lines] Narrator: All the world will be your enemy, Prince of a Thousand enemies. And when they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you; digger, listener, runner, Prince with the swift warning. Be cunning, and full of tricks, and your people will never be destroyed.
[first lines] Narrator: Long ago, the great Frith made the world. He made all the stars and the world lived among the stars. Frith made all the animals and birds and, at first, made them all the same. Now, among the animals was El-Ahrairah, the Prince of Rabbits. He had many friends and they all ate grass together. But after a time, the rabbits wandered everywhere, multiplying and eating as they went. Then Frith said to El-Ahrairah, "Prince Rabbit, if you cannot control your people, I shall find ways to control them." But El-Ahrairah would not listen and said to Frith, "My people are the strongest in the world." This angered Frith, so he determined to get the better of El-Ahrairah. He gave a present to every animal and bird, making each one different from the rest. When the fox came and others, like the dog and cat, hawk and weasel, to each of them, Frith gave a fierce desire to hunt and slay the children of El-Ahrairah.
[after General Woundwort's last stand against a dog] Narrator: General Woundwort's body was never found. It could be that he still lives his fierce life somewhere else, but from that day on, mother rabbits would tell their kittens that if they did not do as they were told, the General would get them. Such was Woundwort's monument, and perhaps it would not have displeased him.
Fiver: Hazel, look... the field... it's covered with blood!
Hazel: [mourning the supposedly-dead Bigwig] My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today.
The Cat: [after catching and pinning Hazel down] Can you run? I think not... I think not.
Kehaar: [to Hazel] Go vay! Ving no good, but I walk plenty good! [He tries to walk, but collapses] Kehaar: Ees long way?
Black Rabbit: Hazel? You know me, don't you? Hazel: I don't. [the visitor reveals himself as The Black Rabbit] Hazel: Oh, yes, my Lord... I know you. Black Rabbit: I've come to ask if you would like to join my Owsla. We shall be glad to have you, and I know you'd like it. You've been feeling tired, haven't you? If you're ready, we might go along now. [Hazel pauses to look back at his rabbits] Black Rabbit: You needn't worry about them. They'll be alright, and thousands like them. If you'll come along, I'll show you what I mean. [Hazel lies down and dies]
Black Rabbit: Hazel... Hazel... you know me, don't you? Hazel: I don't know. [the apparition reveals himself to be the Black Rabbit, and Hazel gasps] Hazel: Yes, my lord. I know you. Black Rabbit: I've come to ask if you'd like to join my Owsla. We shall be glad to have you, and I know you'd like it. You've been feeling tired, haven't you? If you're ready, we might go along now. [Hazel looks at all the younger rabbits of Watership Down] Black Rabbit: You needn't worry about them. They'll be all right, and thousands like them. If you come along now, I'll show you what I mean.
Kehaar: You stupid bunnies! You got no mates! Vere are mates? [He sticks his head down the run] Kehaar: VERE ARE *CHICKS*?
Hazel: Lord Frith, I know you've looked after us well, and it's wrong to ask even more of you. But my people are in terrible danger, and so I would like to make a bargain with you. My life in return for theirs. Frith: There is not a day or night that a doe offers her life for her kittens, or some honest captain of Owsla, his life for his chief. But there is no bargain: what is, is what must be.
Bigwig: Hyzenthlay. Hyzenthlay: Sir? Bigwig: I'd like to talk with you. Hyzenthlay: I'm in the mark and under your orders, sir. Bigwig: Do you remember a pale grey rabbit called Holly you helped escape some while ago? Hyzenthlay: You've made a mistake, sir. Bigwig: Listen, Hyzenthlay. Listen carefully. I'm from a warren where life is free. Where you can do is as you wish. I've come to bring you all out of Efrafra. Hyzenthlay: You might be a spy sent by the council. Bigwig: You know I'm not. Will you join us? And persuade your friends as well, trust me. My friends are not far away. Hyzenthlay: [Voice is breaking] My courage, my... spirit is so much less than it was. Bigwig: We can escape Efrafra. Believe me. Hyzenthlay: Yes... I think I do. [She smiles]
Fiver: [talking about Cowslip's warren] You pay for it! The food, the warren... but no one must ever ask where anyone was or speak of the wires! The whole place is snared! Everywhere, every day!
Blackberry: Men have always hated us. Holly: No. They just destroyed the warren because we were in their way. Fiver: They'll never rest until they've spoiled the earth.
[Kehaar makes a clumsy crash landing in a patch of grass... then looks around to make sure no one saw him] Kehaar: Perfect landing.
Fiver: Look. Look. That's the place for us. High, lonely hills, where the wind and the sound carry, and the ground's as dry as straw in a barn. That's where we ought to be. That's where we have to get to.
General Woundwort: Your name? Hyzenthlay: Hyzenthlay, sir. General Woundwort: I'll be frank with you. You're safe here. Well get on with it! Hyzenthlay: Sir, several of us propose an expedition for a new warren. Somewhere else. General Woundwort: A new warren? Out of the question! Hyzenthlay: But you don't understand. The system is breaking down. General Woundwort: Explain that. Hyzenthlay: Some of us can't produce litters, we're overcrowded. General Woundwort: I want no further discussion about it. Hyzenthlay: We'll go as far as you like! General Woundwort: Here or anywhere else! Hyzenthlay: I... [she is approached threateningly by Campion] Hyzenthlay: [meekly] Thank you, sir. [she leaves] General Woundwort: Campion, have her watched.
Holly: [to Fiver] I remember you... you're the one who saw it coming...
Bigwig: Hazel? It is Hazel, isn't it? Hazel: It is. Bigwig: What are you doing here? Hazel: [Motioning to Fiver] We want to see the chief rabbit, Bigwig. Bigwig: We? You mean he wants to see him too? Hazel: Yes. Fiver: I must. Bigwig: What on earth for? Fiver: Well, I... Holly: Bigwig? What do they want? Bigwig: They want to see the chief rabbit. Holly: What for? Fiver: Well, I... Holly: Send them away. Bigwig: I'll take care of it, Holly. [Turns back to Hazel] Hazel: Look, Bigwig, when have I EVER asked to see the chief rabbit? Bigwig: [Thinks over, hesitating] All right, all right. Wait here. [Goes into warren, speaks to Chief Rabbit for a moment, comes back up] Bigwig: Come along then. Though I'll probably get my ears chewed off for this...
Blackberry: You're beginning to sound like a chief, Hazel. 'Hazel-rah'. Bigwig: Hazel-rah? That'll be the day I call him chief, that will.
General Woundwort: Why throw your life away? Bigwig: Hraka [rabbit for "excrement"] Bigwig: ... sir! General Woundwort: Come out! Bigwig: My Chief's told me to defend this run. General Woundwort: [Stunned] YOUR Chief?
Blackberry: [returning after the disasterous raid on Nuthanger Farm] Fiver, there's been some trouble. Hazel's been shot. Fiver: No. Blackberry: The Black Rabbit serves Lord Frith, but he does no more than his appointed task. Fiver: Hazel's not dead.
Hazel: Where are you going? Fiver: Away, to the hills. Hazel: By yourself, alone? You'll die! Fiver: You're closer to death than I am.
Kehaar: [after landing awkwardly into a patch of grass] Perfect landing!
Hazel: We'll fill in the holes good and deep. They'll have to dig us out, and they can't stay out in the open for long without attracting elil. Blackavar: You don't know the Efrafans. They'll never give up.
Dandelion: If we meet again, Hazel-rah, we'll have the making of the best story ever! Hazel: And you'll be the one to tell it!
Campion: The new officer, sir! He's gone! General Woundwort: Bigwig? Campion: He's wounded Chervil, taken a crowd of the mark with him. General Woundwort: Embleer Frith! I'll blind him. *I'LL BLIND HIM!*
Hazel: [Bigwig is being strangled in a snare] Bigwig! Listen, you're in a snare! A snare! And what did they tell you in Owsla? Think! [Hazel tries to chew the wire loose] Bigwig: [gurgles] No good biting wire...
Hazel: [to the cat] You look hungry! Rats getting too clever, I suppose?
[after they've been fighting] Bigwig: I told you once that I was trying to impress you... I hope I have. General Woundwort: And I told you I would kill you myself! There's no white bird here, Bigwig!
Hazel: [to Cowslip] Rabbits will always need tricks!
Kehaar: [sitting in the mouth of a run while Bigwig is trying to get out past him from behind] Vat home? Dis home? Where are mates? Where are chicks? Mate make eggs. Me sit on eggs, hatch eggs, many eggs. Ve feed chick. Egg robbers come, we fight! YARK, YARK! [Bigwig pushes through underneath Kehaar]
Bigwig: Aren't you going to silflay? Blackavar: I don't silflay at this time, sir. Sherbil: Tell him why you're here, Blackavar. Blackavar: [Mumbles] I've come here for the mark... [Chervil swipes at him to make him speak up, and he does] Blackavar: I... I... I've come here for the mark to see me. I... I've been punished for trying to leave the warren. [Chervil glares] Blackavar: The council were merciful... [Chervil threatens him again, and Blackavar cowers] Blackavar: The council were merciful. Sherbil: He keeps trying to run away. Captain Campion caught him this time. The council ripped his ears and says he has to show himself every morning early silflay as an example to the others. If you ask me, he won't last much longer. He'll meet a blacker rabbit than himself one of these nights.
Pipkin: [while all are digging in the rain] What's happening back home, I wonder? Think, when we lived in our own burrows? Dry, soft, warm bodies... Dandelion: [to Hazel] Look, we can't go on like this. Silver: It keeps getting worse and worse wherever we go. Where ARE we going? Hazel: It won't be much longer, then we can all rest. Silver: How MUCH longer? Pipkin: We never should have left. Blackberry: Suppose Fiver's all wrong? Pipkin: We want to go back and find out. Hazel: Go back? After all we've been through? Bigwig: And probably get killed for wounding Captain Holly? An Owsla officer? Talk sense, for Frith's sake!
Fiver: [in the grip of a vision] So cold... so very cold...
[Woundwort emerges from the hole and sees his soldiers fleeing at the sight of the dog] General Woundwort: Come back! Come back, you fools! Campion: Run! General Woundwort: Come back! Come back and fight! Dogs aren't dangerous! [the dog drops a dead Efrafan and then comes in slow-motion after Woundwort, who tries to lunge away from the dog and disappears off-screen]
Dandelion: [looking at the countryside from Watership Down] O Frith on the hills! He made it all for us! Hazel: Frith may have made it, but Fiver found it.
Hazel: [Holly is trying to stop them from leaving the warren] Go... now... or we'll kill you! Holly: It's you who'll be killed! [He attackks Hazel]
Bigwig: [meeting secretly with Kehaar to discuss the escape plan] Listen carfeully. Kehaar: [none too quietly] YAH! Bigwig: [not knowing Woundwort has heard Kehaar] Shhhh!
Hyzenthlay: [discussing the escape plan with Bigwig] Sometimes I can tell when things are true. Sometimes... I can see it... The high down with trees, and... [shakes head] Hyzenthlay: I've become foolish. Bigwig: [referring to Fiver] You'll have to meet this friend of mine. He talks just like that.
Violet: [Running from a badger] It had just killed. I saw blood on it's lips. Dandelion: Lucky for us it had, otherwise it might have been quicker!
Fiver: [long pause after Violet has been carried off by an attacking hawk, then] Violet's gone.
Bigwig: [They're being chased by a dog at the stream's edge] Come on! What d'you think will happen when he picks up our scent? Those that can swim swim. The others... will have to make out the best they can. Hazel: That's not good enough! We all got into this together, we'll all get out of it together!
Fiver: There's something very queer about the warren this evening... Hazel: Is it dangerous? Fiver: It's not exactly danger, it's... oh, I don't know. Something oppressive... like thunder.
Bigwig: There's a dog loose in the woods! Silver: Oh, that does it!
[Confronting Bigwig leading a mass defection of Efrafans] General Woundwort: Bigwig, you traitorous...! [to a subordinate] General Woundwort: Captain, get this miserable group back to their marks. I'll settle you myself, Bigwig. There's no need to take you back. Bigwig: Come and try, you cracked-brain slave driver!
General Woundwort: [after Kehaar the bird attacks him] Get away, you damn white bird!
Bigwig: [Mocking Fiver's prophecies] I'm in a mist! Everything's bad! Oh, I've got a funny feeling in my toe! *Hraka*!
Hazel: [while running to the farm to save his rabbits from Woundwort] Lord Frith, I know you've looked after us well and it's wrong to ask even more of you, but my people are in terrible danger! So I would like to make a bargain with you... my life in return for theirs. Frith: There is not a day or night that a doe offers her life for her kittens or some honest captain of Owsla his life for his Chief, but there is no bargain. What is is what must be.
[music gets tense as Campion and the other Efrafans see the dog that Hazel and the others have unleashed on them] Campion: Run! Run for your lives! Run!
Hazel: Are you hurt? Kehaar: Kaah kaah! Hazel: If he's hurt, maybe we ought to help him. Bigwig: A bird? What for? Hazel: We - help - you. Kehaar: Piss off!
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