|The Last Unicorn|
|"Quick, find a giant flaming Tito Santana" - Ronin Fox|
|Riffed by||Ronin Fox Trax|
|Date Released||January 1, 2009|
The Last Unicorn is a 1982 animated fantasy film directed by Arthur Rankin, Jr and Jules Bass. It stars Mia Farrow, Alan Arkin and Jeff Bridges, and was produced by the well known Rankin/Bass company and ITC entertainment. Mostly known for making low budget holiday specials, Rankin/Bass enlisted the Japanese studio Topcraft, a company that included many of the animators that would later form Studio Ghibli, and in the process helped introduce Japanese-styled animation to American Audiences. The screenplay was written by Peter S. Beagle, and based on Beagle's original novel. The film is known for featuring numerous songs from the folk rock band America.
Synopsis and PreviewEdit
Two hunters travel through a forest, finding nothing to hunt. One of them suggests its because there is a unicorn in the forest, as the woods had always been strange here. As they leave he calls out to the unicorn to stay where it is and protect its woods, for it is the last one.
There is in fact a unicorn there, who is confused at the idea that there could be no other unicorns left, as they are ancient and immortal creatures. She asks a strange butterfly that happens by if he has seen any others in his travels, and the butterfly tells a mysterious story of The Red Bull hearding unicorns from their homes. The unicorn decides to leave her forest to investigate.
In her travels, the unicorn is almost captured by a human, thinking she is a normal horse. The unicorn discovers that most people can not see her horn, and will not realize that she is anything special. Later she is found by a witch named Mommy Fortuna, who does see her true self. Fortuna and her companions capture the unicorn for her traveling carnival attractions, most of which are ordinary mistreated animals with enchantments on them to make them appear as mythical beasts. Fortuna puts an enchantment on the unicorn as well, giving her a fake horn that normal people would see, in essence disguising a real unicorn as itself.
One of Fortuna's companions is a magician named Schmendrick, who also recognized the unicorn as real. Schmendrick agrees to help the unicorn escape, and tries to use magic to open her cage. When his spell fails, he settles for using the key he had already stolen. When the unicorn is free, it chooses to help the other creatures escape at the same time, including the only other real mythological being, a viscious harpie. The harpie attacks and kills Fortuna while the unicorn and Schmendrick escape.
Schmendrick and the unicorn decide to travel together, and come across the camp of Captain Cully, a boisterous outlaw that sees himself as the real version of Robin Hood. The unicorn hides as Schendrick is taken in and encouraged by Cully's men to show them some magic. The result is a ghostly procession of illusions of Robin Hood and his band walking through the camp. Cully's men are so taken in that they chase after the illusions, wanting to join with Robin Hood. Cully takes offense and punishes Schmendrick by leaving him tied to a tree.
Schmendrick attempts to use his magic to escape, but only manages to turn the tree into a disturbing tree like creature who falls in love him and smothers him with wooden boobs. The unicorn arrives to reverse Schmendrick's mistake and free him. Shortly after, Molly Grue, one of Cully's companions, finds them and instantly recognizes the unicorn, as she had always wanted to see one. They set out together, trying to follow the trail of the Red Bull.
The quest ends at a castle built on a cliff by the ocean, where they do find the Red Bull. The creature attacks and tries to heard the unicorn away as it did all the others. Seeing no choice, Schmendrick uses his magic and transforms the unicorn into a human woman. Once the spell takes hold, the Red Bull ignores her and goes back into hiding. Molly and the unicorn are both horrified at the transformation. The unicorn cries as she feels mortality for the first time.
Traveling to the castle, they meet King Haggard and his son Prince Lir. They are given accomodations, Schmendrick is made the new magician for Haggard's court, replacing a more competent wizard, and Molly is sent to work in the kitchens. The unicorn, now named Lady Amalthia, is courted by Prince Lir, and they both develop love for eachother.
Amalthia begins to forget her life as a unicorn as her love for Lir grows. Haggard confronts her, giving up that it was he who controls the Red Bull and sent it to gather the unicorns, which are imprisoned in the sea for him to gaze at. He claims to know what she really is, but becomes discouraged when he notices the magic is fading from her eyes, and believes he might have been mistaken.
A talking cat in the kitchen helps Molly by pointing her in the direction of the Red Bull's lair with a series of riddles. She and Schmendrick solve the riddles and reach the lair as Lir joins them. Even when Schmendrick explains the truth about Amalthia, he is undetered in his love. When the group finds the Red Bull, it is no longer fooled by Amanthia's disguise and it attacks. Schmendrick releases the spell and returns her to her unicorn form. Lir is gravely injured while attempting to protect her, and the unicorn refuses to be driven away from his side. Standing up for herself, she turns the tables on the Red Bull and drives him into the ocean, in the process freeing the other unicorns. The stampede of the creatures shakes the foundations of Haggard's castle and it falls into the ocean.
The unicorn returns to Lir's side, and is able to heal his wounds, saving his life. She cannot stay with him, however. She meets with Schmendrick one last time. Schmendrick believes he has done her wrong for making her a human and making her feel mortality and regret, but the unicorn forgives him before returning to her forest.
Cast and CrewEdit
- Mia Farrow as The Unicorn / Amalthea
- Alan Arkin as Schmendrick
- Jeff Bridges as Prince Lir
- Tammy Grimes as Molly Grue
- Robert Klein as The Butterfly
- Angela Lansbury as Mommy Fortuna
- Christopher Lee as King Haggard
- Keenan Wynn as Captain Cully / Harpy
- Paul Frees as Mabruk
- Rene Auberjonois as The Skull
- Brother Theodore as Ruhk
- Don Messick as The Cat
- Jack Lester as Hunter #1 / Old Farmer / Cully's Men
- Nellie Bellflower as The Tree
- Ed Peck as Jack Jingley / Cully's Men
- Kenneth Jennings as Hunter #2 / Cully's Men
- While the film is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from numerous sources, the screenwriter and original author, Peter S. Beagle, does not recieve any royalties for the sale unless it is purchased through the website Conlanpress.com.