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Tear Jerker / Watership Down

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The Film

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/blackrabbit.JPG
"I've come to ask if you'd like to join my Owsla."
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  • The Bright Eyes Sequence and the music thereof.
  • The film's depiction of Hazel's death, as seen in the image.
    Ghostly Rabbit: Hazel... Hazel... You know me, don't you?
    Hazel: (squinting) I don't.
    (The Ghostly Rabbit reveals himself as The Black Rabbit briefly)
    Hazel: (gasps, then reverently) Yes, my Lord... I know you.
    Ghostly 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 looks back at the playing bunnies)
    Ghostly Rabbit: (warmly) You needn't worry about them. They'll be alright, and thousands like them. (beat) If you'll come along, I'll show you what I mean.
    (Hazel lies down, takes one last breath and dies. His ghostly form arises from his body and joins the Black Rabbit)
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The Novel

  • Strawberry begs to come with the Sandleford rabbits. He's told, rather nastily, to go back to his mate—and he whispers miserably, "The wires..."
  • The chapter detailing the destruction of the Sandleford warren, aptly titled "For El-Ahrairah to Cry."
    • "We followed the river down into a big wood; and that night, while we were still in the wood, Toadflax died. He was clear-headed for a short time before and I remember something he said. Bluebell had been saying that he knew the humans hated us for raiding their crops and gardens and Toadflax answered, "That wasn't why they destroyed the warren. It was just because we were in their way. They killed us to suit themselves."
  • The night before his extremely dangerous mission, Bigwig demands what is - to the rabbits - a ghost story, "El-Ahrairah and the Black Rabbit of Inlé." In it, El-ahrairah travels to the land of the dead to beg the Black Rabbit - his mythology's Angel of Death - to save his people from extinction. He is refused, and for once, discovers a foe whom he cannot outsmart...
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  • The poem of Hyzenthlay the Efrafan doe, quoted here
    The beetles died in the frost and my heart is dark;
    And I shall never choose a mate again.
    The frost is falling, the frost falls into my body,
    My nostrils, my ears are torpid under the frost.
    The swift will come in the spring, crying “News! News!
    Does, flow with milk and dig holes for your litters!”
    I shall not hear. The embryos return
    Into my dulled body. Across my sleep
    There runs a wire fence to imprison the wind.
  • In the end, years after his glorious triumph, Hazel passes away unobserved (though surely not unmourned). A Bittersweet Ending but hard to bear for readers who've followed Hazel so far, through so much.

The Netflix Series

  • Hazel's death is possibly even sadder in the Netflix series, because here we get to see his final conversation with Fiver. It's very clear from how Fiver acts, and from the tone of his voice, that he knows this is the last conversation he'll ever have with Hazel but can't bring himself to actually tell Hazel that.
    Hazel: What news, Hrairoo?
    Fiver: Oh, nothing much. I just wanted to come and sit with you for a moment, if I may.
    (pause as they lie in the grass, side by side, and watch the pond)
    Fiver: What a path we've walked together, eh? It... it's been such a pleasure and honour... (voice shaking) ...and a real privilege.
    Hazel: Hmm. Are you all right, Fiver?
    Fiver: (choked) Yeah, yeah, I'm fine. I just came to say good night to you. My leader... my brother... my friend. So... (long pause) Good night.
    Hazel: Good night, Hrairoo.

Meta

  • Both the voice actors for Kehaar and Cowslip (Zero Mostel and Denholm Elliot respectively) died a decade apart from each other. Mostel didn't even live long enough to see the finished film released.
    • Kehaar's final lines, saying goodbye to the rabbits, read like a farewell from Mostel to the audience:
    Kehaar: "I go to big water!"
  • In online rabbit-owner groups (for example, the "bunblr" community), it's very common for friends and followers to respond to the death of a rabbit with a litany of "My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today."
    • When Richard Adams died in late 2016, thousands of users on Twitter marked his passing with that very same phrase.
    • As well the death of John Hurt, a scant few months later.

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