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Watership Down, Hazel (John Hurt (voice))

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Writeup Rating: 70%
(ratings: 2)
Film: Watership Down (1978)
Deceased Character: Hazel (John Hurt (voice))
Archetype: Goody (Major)
Killed with: Old Age

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Written by Mr. Mouseburger 6th Nov 2007

Hazel is the hero of the film and has successfully managed to guide a ragtag group of rabbits (and seagull) to Watership Down; the rabbit equivalent of Shangri-La.

He has lived an eventful life, andnarrowly escaped meeting the Black Rabbit of Inle earlier in the film, when he released some rabbits from a farm and got shot for his trouble.

Alas though, old age has caught up with Hazel and lying in the warmth of the summer sun, he hears the voice of El-ahrairah, prince with a thousand enemies, calling him. This is all in a dream sequence and the Prince calls Hazel to come and join him in the afterlife.

Hazel is reluctant, as he still feels paternalistic towards to the group he managed to lead to Watership Down, but following reassurance from El-ahrairah that his kittens will be safe under his protection, Hazel agrees and with a few final deep breaths he falls into the eternal sleep of death.

At this point, the spirit of Hazel rises from the shell of his body and he joins the Black Rabbit of Inle drifting off over the downs, to the strains of "Bright Eyes" by Art Garfunkel.

Just one category for this death : Old Age

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Other Death Reviews for Watership Down (1978)

General Woundwort (Harry Andrews (voice))
Hazel (John Hurt (voice))

Last Updated: 2nd Jun 2008
Number of views for this review since 30th May 2008: 4431
This review has 4 comments. Reply to the comments
Comment 1 by 'Bill' (reply to this comment)
God... I hated watching this scene when I was younger
Comment 2 by 'Kooshmeister' (reply to this comment)
Excellent description. I've always considered the scene to be beautiful. A quiet, peaceful death after all the violence preceding it. It shows us that death isn't always something to be feared.

Interestingly, although it is El-Ahrairah who visits Hazel before he dies, if we're to take the credits at face value, it's actually the Black Rabbit of Inle in that version. Although the credits also list Vervain, a character that didn't have any dialogue (the only major 'evil' Efrafans with dialogue were Woundwort, Campion and Chervil; Vervain did appear, but he never spoke), so I dunno how well we can trust them.

In fact, for a moment, when Hazel says he doesn't know him, the otherwise normal-looking spectral rabbit flashes to the black and terrifying Black Rabbit seen during the prologue. I like the idea of a Grim Reaper (which is more or less what the Black Rabbit is to the rabbits) who is not actually scary but friendly.
Comment 3 by 'kyle' (reply to this comment)
even at 33 i still get all sobby over this scene. i think what gets me is there is such a time lapse that you feel you need to know more about the bunnies lives and you are cheated by the jump to death. i now want to read the book to hopefully see if there is more about the bunnies lives.
Comment 4 by 'Kooshmeister' (reply to this comment)
There is. They making peace with the surviving Efrafans, and implimenting the plan Hazel put forth to Woundwort (their two warrens cooperating rather than fighting), and there is also mention of how Fiver becomes something of a recluse but finds happiness with a mate.

There is also more detail about how Hazel escaped from the cat, as opposed to just the little girl, Lucy, stopping the cat from killing him, and how she takes him to a local doctor named Dr. Adams (a character patterned after the author's father, not a self-insertion) to help with his injured leg where he got shot, and then they set him free, changing his opinion of humans.