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Revisiting the production of Watership Down through the Arthur Humberstone Animation Archive

Revisiting the production of Watership Down through the Arthur Humberstone Animation Archive

Pallant, Christopher ORCID: 0000-0002-1308-2565 , Humberstone, Nigel and Humberstone, Klive (2023) Revisiting the production of Watership Down through the Arthur Humberstone Animation Archive. In: Lester, Catherine, (ed.) Watership Down: Perspectives On and Beyond Animated Violence. Bloomsbury Open Access, Film & Media Studies 2023 . Bloomsbury Academic, New York, pp. 41-59. ISBN 978-1501376993; 978-1501376979; 978-1501376986; 978-1501376955

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This chapter seeks to present new ways of thinking about the production history of Watership Down (Rosen, 1978), with the ambition being to expand the conversation, and, in doing so, cast light upon the contributions of a hitherto neglected yet long-serving member of the UK animation community: Arthur Humberstone. We also aim to contribute to the overall project of this book, which is to enable a more nuanced appreciation of this important animated film. The intention here is not to lose sight of the collaborative nature of film production, which was a characteristic of the production of Watership Down with its crew of almost 100 individuals across a variety of roles; rather, it is simply to take advantage of a surviving archive and to revisit the materials found within to establish fresh ways of understanding this production.[2] Drawing upon the autobiographical insight of Klive and Nigel Humberstone, Humberstone’s sons, interviews with individuals who worked alongside Humberstone on the production of Watership Down, and working from the privately managed Arthur Humberstone Animation Archive (which contains a wealth of pre-production materials spanning his forty-five-year career), this chapter reveals the role played by Humberstone during the film’s eventful production. After a short discussion of the chapter’s methodology, we will then provide a brief biographical account of Humberstone’s working life, before engaging with a number of documents from the Arthur Humberstone Animation Archive. The archival documents consulted here, combined with the new key informant interview conducted during the preparation of this chapter, present new insights related to: the non-standard dialectical production practices employed on Watership Down; Humberstone’s profound – yet hitherto overlooked – influence over the animal aesthetics found in Watership Down; and how the archive can be used to rebuild and deepen our understanding of the richly layered animation workspace.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: animation; production studies; design
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > NC Drawing Design Illustration
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > School of Design (DES)
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Last Modified: 05 Apr 2024 11:13

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