Beyond the Easter Bunny
Allie Tollaksen | Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Just around the corner marks another weekend closer to finals, a few more days off of school, the end of Lent (you can finally indulge in that soda or chocolate) and, of course, Easter. And with this holiday comes one of the strangest holiday figures on our calendar: a rabbit who delivers eggs.
The Easter bunny isn’t the only puzzling rabbit in our culture, however. These critters, cute or not, have made some sufficiently strange appearances on the silver screen throughout the years. Here’s a look at a few of the most memorable rabbits in film history.
“Donnie Darko” – The 2001 film was plenty strange without a character in a frightening rabbit costume, but Frank the rabbit helped burn “Donnie Darko” into the minds of a generation and certainly had a hand in bringing the science-fiction film to cult-hit status. Frank is what drives the film’s plot, helps establish its sinister feel early on (though a possessed Jake Gyllenhaal gives the rabbit a run for its money) and was definitely the stuff of countless young-millennial nightmares.
“Harvey” – If you haven’t seen this classic Jimmy Stewart film — one of my favorite movies ever — it’s a must see. Stewart plays Elwood P. Dowd, a pleasant man whose best friend happens to be an invisible, six-foot, three-and-one-half-inch tall rabbit named Harvey. Much to the concern and embarrassment of his family, Elwood doesn’t hide Harvey from the world, and instead saves an extra seat at the bar and talks to the empty chair. This eventually leads his sister to coordinate an intervention for the seemingly-insane Elwood. Of course, chaos ensues, and Stewart gives undeniably charming performance in this eccentric but enjoyable film.
“Monty Python and the Holy Grail” – It may be just one part of one of the most quoted and beloved films of all time, but the Rabbit of Caerbannog in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” was a high point in cinematic rabbit history. An unsuspecting-looking bunny, the Rabbit of Caerbannog is responsible for guarding the caves that hold the key to finding the Holy Grail. When the knights come upon this enemy, its ferocity is unleashed in an absurd, gory and hilarious scene, prompting the oft-quoted response to the killer rabbit: “Run away!”
“Who Framed Roger Rabbit” – Though rated PG, half-animated and centered around a cartoon, almost every memory I have of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” makes it seem like one of the most inappropriate movie of my childhood: there was murder, plenty of old-school cartoon violence and the notorious, over-sexualized Jessica Rabbit. But the 1988 film also brought us some incredible animation, a resurgence in animated films from Disney and its eponymous character to add to our list of famous rabbits of film.
“Alice in Wonderland” – It was Lewis Carroll that created the White Rabbit in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” while the 1951 animated film brought the anxious creature on screen. Finally, the 2010 Tim Burton take on “Alice” made the pink-eyed, personified rabbit thoroughly terrifying in the way only Tim Burton could. And with director James Bobin (“The Muppets”) in talks to make a sequel, it looks like The White Rabbit will be back on screen in 2016.
Honorable mention: “8 Mile” – How could I make a list of rabbits without Jimmy “B-Rabbit” Smith?
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.