In honor of the secular Easter tradition of putting small children on the laps of sweaty people in giant rabbit suits, I present to you a short list of memorable rabbits—anthropomorphic, suited, and otherwise—from film.
Creepiest: Frank from Donnie Darko (2001)
For generations of children, human-sized rabbits have been the stuff of nightmares (if you don’t agree, look at the photo blog of creepy Easter bunnies and then get back to me). Donnie Darko brings this nightmare to life and compounds the creepy factor with a man-rabbit that calls himself “Frank” and tells an adolescent Jake Gyllenhaal that the world is going to end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds.
Least Visible: Harvey from Harvey (1950)
I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to hear the name “Harvey” without afterward hearing it repeated, in Jimmy Stewart’s voice, over and over and over and over and over in my head for days. It’s happening right now. And now. And now. And now! Seriously, though, this one sticks with you because of the entertainment and warm fuzzies. Perhaps we could all use an invisible magical time-stopping rabbit, who keeps us happy and keeps us pleasant.
Most Sexualized: Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)
Though a Rabbit in name, Jessica does not belong to the family Leporidae. She is simply married to a rabbit, which is totally normal, and–clearly a traditionalist–she chose to take his name. Although the film is named for her husband, an informal and unregulated survey shows that what I and most people remember from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is not the plot, not Roger, but Roger’s absurdly, grotesquely buxom wife. Draw what conclusions you will.
Most Bloodthirsty: The Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
This guardian of the cave where dwells the Legendary Black Beast of Aaarrrrggghh is ferocious, and can only be defeated by the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, as many brave knights have learned by paying the ultimate price. Thus, the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog goes down as the most bloodthirsty rabbit in film to date–but is still no match for King Arthur, of course.
Bravest: Hazel from Watership Down (1978)
It is usually those not seeking to be leaders who turn out to be most fit to lead. Hazel (a rabbit, in case that wasn’t clear) proves this when, after trying to alert the Chief to
coming danger, he ends up leading a small group of his fellows into exile to protect them from what they believe to be their certain doom. After some wandering and some trials, they establish a successful new warren at Watership Down. The Moses of rabbits (too far?), Hazel is far and away the bravest hare that ever lived in Sandleford, Frith bless him.
There. Five rabbits. Five movies. Happy Easter!