Expressionistic hand-drawn imagery meets dark political commentary in the animation classic leading off this week’s offerings on the Criterion Channel. Adapted from British writer Richard Adams’s dystopian novel, Martin Rosen’s 1978 Watership Down is a visually astonishing children’s film anchored by a menacing view of social upheaval, reflected in the story of a community of rabbits under attack by the forces of modernity. Watch the film now on the Channel, where we’re presenting it alongside a 2005 featurette about its aesthetic, an interview with Guillermo del Toro, and other supplemental material.
Also new this week on the Channel are a pair of beautifully crafted period pieces, a look at the creative and romantic partnership of Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais, and a rollicking double bill for your Easter viewing.
Get ready for Resurrection Sunday with two divergent perspectives on the free-love era. Les Blank’s 1968 short film God Respects Us When We Work, but Loves Us When We Dance captures a historic 1967 Easter love-in that took place in Los Angeles. Direct Cinema pioneers David Maysles, Albert Maysles, and Charlotte Zwerin’s 1970 Gimme Shelter bears witness to a free concert headlined by the Rolling Stones that turned notoriously violent.
The third installment in our Creative Marriages series whisks viewers away to fantastical realms, focusing on the collaboration between filmmaker and writer Jean Cocteau and his longtime muse and lover, actor Jean Marais, who helped bring the director’s exquisite dream worlds to life. Watch their timeless classics Beauty and the Beast (1946) and Orpheus (1950) with an introduction by critic and programmer Michael Sragow, then check out our previous episodes highlighting Federico Fellini and Giulietta Masina, and Roger Vadim and Brigitte Bardot.
This week’s double bill pairs two exquisitely wrought period pieces, both of which boast scenes of piano playing, characteristically excellent performances by Dame Maggie Smith, and strong literary pedigrees: the Merchant Ivory romance A Room with a View (1986) adapts E. M. Forster, while Jack Clayton’s Ireland-set tragedy The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (1987) is based on a 1955 novel by Brian Moore. For a closer look at Clayton’s film, read Michael Sragow on the director’s talent for bringing out the very best in powerhouse actresses like Smith, Deborah Kerr, and Anne Bancroft.