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The Last Unicorn

The 1982 animated cult classic fantasy film directed by Julie Bass.

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"She will remember your heart when men are fairy tales in books written by rabbits."

  • Dec 1, 2007
Pros: Absolutely fantastic voice over cast

Cons: Never was a fan of the drawing style by Rankin/Bass

The Bottom Line: Completely faithful to the novel (...since Peter S. Beagle did the screenplay)

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot.

After my Top 10 Animated Goodness Movies list, in which I’d listed The Hobbit, someone mentioned I should have put The Last Unicorn instead. I hadn’t seen the movie – until now. Before I bothered with the movie, I wanted to read the book first, and now that that’s done, I watched the movie.

Because Peter S. Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn wrote the screenplay, this movie is as close to the book as any movie may ever be. One unicorn realizes she may very well be the last one in the world and thus she sets out to find the others, or at the very least, signs of their passing. As she searches and learns what may have become of them, she meets Schmendrick the hapless magician and Molly Grue, who has been waiting nearly all her life to see a unicorn. Together they may be able to find the rest of the unicorns and fulfill a prophecy that will lead a kingdom to freedom at last.

Ok, while I put The Hobbit in my list, it should be noted that I never said I enjoyed the animation. Even when I was a kid I wasn’t a big fan of the way they drew Bilbo and a lot of other things. The same can be said for this movie as both were done by the same studio. The characters are drawn in weird ways, possibly to reflect aspects of themselves, and the color, aside from much of the unicorn’s forest and herself, just seems (as The Hobbit did) dulled or faded. And it’s not because of time either – it’s just the way they did it. Odd, but not much that can be done about it. At the very least, the unicorn was drawn correctly and Lady Amalthea was probably the best looking character (proportional, and essentially normal instead of overdone), which might have been all planned out just to make her look all the more beautiful as she should. But who knows?

Either way, the story echoes the book perfectly. I mean, 99.99999% perfect. From the lines all the way down to the tone that I got from the book itself. Kind of sad, but still good. Like magic you knew was once there but has now died away. As though all the unicorns did fade out, even though the movie had a sort of happy ending. I’m not sure how Beagle did it in the book, but it was translated over into the movie incredibly well. The music was exactly the same way; the opening song is performed by America and makes me want to cry, so if you ever hear that, you’ll likely know what I mean.

While the animation annoyed me, had the voice actors not been as phenomenal as they were, this would have likely gotten 3 stars. However, the cast alone puts it back at 4. I actually can’t quite believe how they managed to get all these names: Alan Arkin, Jeff Bridges, Mia Farrow, Angela Lansbury, Christopher Lee, and even Rene Auberjonois (who, while not very big in motion pictures, has a very distinguished television career). Everyone did a fantastic job, though I admit I loved Alan Arkin as Schmendrick the best. He was solid gold and there were lines he delivered that just made me laugh. Even Peter S. Beagle, because he thought Arkin was such a great actor, joked that he could have been the unicorn and it would have been fine.

You will find a few things in this movie that you won’t find these days (words such as “damn” and a tree with obvious breasts), but you know what? That’s fine. It’s better the way it is instead of sugar-coated crap kids got in later years (though I think it’s fading a bit today). So yeah, go check it out for old time’s sake. (especially since I think Beagle is finally getting money for the movie now – but that’s a whole other story).


P.S. If you’ve ever seen the tapestry of the “The Hunt of the Unicorn” then pay close attention to the beginning (a cool addition if you ask me).


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More The Last Unicorn reviews
review by . May 01, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
This is one of those movies that i saw when i was really young (even though it was made before i was born) and tracked down on amazon as an adult. It is based on a book that sadly i have never read...but its on my list for the used book store. This film is about a unicorn that leaves her enchanted forest to seek out other unicorns after hearing a rumor that she is the last unicorn left in the world. After a butterfly tells the unicorn that she must seek out king haggard because he and his red bull …
review by . January 12, 2002
Pros: Wonderful animation, good music, and a poignant and magical tale.     Cons: None, even the sad parts are appropriate to the story!     The Bottom Line: One of the greatest tales about unicorns in general and a masterwork of fantasy!     Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot. Two huntsman enter a forest that is never touched by winter and begin talking about the belief that these woods belong to a …
About the reviewer
Nicole ()
Ranked #71
Age: 27 Currently: Freelancing my butt off and querying my other novel, Blood for Wolves. Who likes seriously factured fairy tales? =D      Like books? Then take it from a real, live … more
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Weary of being alone in the vast forest, unicorn Amalthea (Mia Farrow) begins to wonder if she's the last of her kind. Following a rumor, she joins forces with feeblish wizard Schmendrick (Alan Arkin) and wayward barmaid Molly (Tammy Grimes) to look for the mystical Red Bull, a creature known to hunt and imprison unicorns. In order to walk unnoticed among men, Schmendrick magically transforms Amalthea into a beautiful woman. Together the three embark on a adventurous journey into the dark land of King Haggard, the man rumored to control the Red Bull. <br> <br> Based on Peter Beagle's novel of the same name, THE LAST UNICORN is a bright, colorful tale about love and loss. Farrow loans her fluttering voice indelibly to the lips of the unicorn, and Arkin is spot on playing the spell-casting wizard Schmendrick. The film also features the vocal talents of Jeff Bridges, Christopher Lee, and Angela Lansbury. Complete with an over-the-top soundtrack by the pop band America, THE LAST UNICORN is perhaps the high...
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Director: Jules Bass
Genre: Family
Release Date: January 1, 1982
MPAA Rating: G
DVD Release Date: Artisan Entertainment (March 16, 2004)
Runtime: 84 minutes
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