The Last Unicorn
Director: Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.
Writer: Peter S. Beagle
Based on: his novel
Cast: Alan Arkin, Jeff Bridges, Mia Farrow, Tammy Grimes, Robert Klein, Angela Lansbury, Christopher Lee
The Unicorn (Mia Farrow) hears that she is supposed to be the last in the world, the rest of the unicorns having been chased by the Red Bull. At first, she doesn’t believe those news and she decides to go looking for the others. But as she scours the lands, she doesn’t find them. Instead she hears more stories about King Haggard (Christopher Lee) and his Red Bull. Joined by Schmendrick (Alan Arkin), a rather inept wizard, and Molly (Tammy Grimes), a former robber, they make their way to the castle to find out about the unicorns.
I am honestly not sure how many times I have seen this film. It’s older than I am and it has been with me through my entire childhood (we used to watch it at least once a year, usually around Christmas). I hadn’t seen it for a while now, so I was very glad when the film still carried the same magic for me as it did back then.
I babysat my sister’s children and they had never seen the film before, so I watched it together with them. And that was really great way to reconnect with the film. My nephew (6) was completely wrapped up in the story and watched attentively, though he later said that the movie was “mediocre good” [but that’s his way, he rarely gets excited about things]. And my niece (almost 5) was a bit scared during the film [especially the part with the harpy, though the Red Bull was also pretty scary for her], but not too scared and in the end she jumped up and down, clapping and shouting “Bravo, unicorn! Well done, unicorn!”
I myself still know most of the lines by heart. I actually don’t think I ever saw it in English and since I watched it with the kids, I didn’t this time either, but that is something that I wanna rectify soon. Not that the German version is bad – in fact, they had a pretty good cast (and Christopher Lee does both the English and the German version). But you know, for completeness sake.
Despite the fact that I still remembered everything so well, I was completely caught up in the story again. I cried again, of course. [It’s Molly’s “where have you been” that mostly does it for me, interestingly enough.] It’s just still a wonderful film.
It isn’t perfect though. The animation is a little shoddy sometimes (though the general design is beautiful). And while I do like the songs, they do seem a little obtrusive (it was also the major complaints from the kids – “not again another song!”) and less would have been more in this case. But even those things don’t really take away from the film and the story and magic and the emotions.
Summarising: Beloved classic if ever there was one. I really need to read the book.