I have been aware of The Last Unicorn for many years but till now I had not seen it or knew anything about it. Heck, I thought it was an anime since the most exposure I had to it was cosplayers and the 80’s was a weird time for anime imports.
The Last Unicorn is actually a 1982 American movie done by my old nemesis Rankin/Bass Productions with Japanese animation and it’s a weird movie, very weird.
The plot goes is a unicorn hears that she is the last one of her kind. She learns that a Red Bull herded the unicorns to the ends of the Earth. She decides to leave her enchanted forest to find them. She then get kidnapped by Mommy Fortuna and is put on display at a carnival. The carnival boosts that it has mythological animals however aside from herself and an immortal harpy the attractions are just illusions.
The Unicorn is helped by Schmendrick, an incompetent magician who works for Mommy Fortuna. Schmendrick frees the unicorn and the other animals and the harp kills Mommy Fortuna, it’s ok though because literally Fortuna is asking to be eaten by the harpy, bitch is crazy. We then learn that unicorn being immortal creatures are not capable of love or regret. We also learn that the Red bull maybe a servant of a jerk-face King named Haggard. Schmendrick and the unicorn are then kidnapped by thieves and they pick up another companion Molly, a woman who loves Unicorns.
As they near Haggard’s castle, the Unicorn is assaulted by the Red Bull, Schmendrick uses magic to help and turns her into a human. The party heads to Haggard’s castle and Schmendrick names the unicorn Lady Amalthea. They meet the King and his son Lir. Lir becomes infatuated with Amalthea but she is confused because of her mortal body but she think she is falling in love and abandoning her quest.
Haggard tells her that the Unicorns are all in the sea and kept there by the Red Bull. Molly learns the location of the Red Bull’s den. In there Schmendrick tells Lir about Amalthea’s identity and Lir is unswayed, he still loves her. In the end Amalthea is transformed back to a unicorn and she pushes the Red Bull into the sea, the unicorn come back to the land and Haggard’s castle crumbles and he falls into the sea and our fair former Last Unicorn is the only unicorn to know love and regret.
Not going to lie, I enjoyed this movie but it has some issues. Unlike some other movies this one doesn’t feel like it is insulting your intelligence but on the flip side, I think it’s trying way too hard to be smart and thoughtful.
In many ways, it is a nice intelligent tale of identity and love but in many more ways it’s very convoluted like the part with Harpy. It was interesting that Unicorns and Harpies are two sides of the same coin but nothing more was done with that idea and the whole scene with Fortuna’s death or those who can see unicorn are those who seek them out are never fleshed out.
Things are talked about but not really explain because of the overall quest to find the unicorns which in it of itself is quick. I mean they meet with few obstacles on their quests.
The characters are both interesting and very flat. Let’s just take our main character the Unicorn a.k.a Lady Amalthea. Her motivation is to find out what happened to the other unicorns, admirable, although she seems to really only want to prove those two random guys at the start of the movie wrong.
Outside her identity crisis, she doesn’t have much of a character, which I think is the point as part of her noble immortal persona and that would have worked if the rest of the character had personalities. Schmendrick sort of has one but it’s bland.
Speaking of bland, the songs and animation are quite bland. There are some cool shots and interesting designs but on the whole it’s bland. The songs are nice but forgettable. Though Amalthea’s song about being a woman was a little silly in it’s unintentional subject matter.
Returning to the plot, the plot is overly simple but many thing were not explained very well. For instance what is the Red Bull? I get he some fire elements that works for King Haggard but what is it? How did Haggard create it? Is it only function herding Unicorns into the sea? And that is another issue, Why are unicorns scared of the Red Bull? Why is Haggard’s master plan having the unicorn in the sea? Why don’t the unicorn go across the sea or to a different shore?
I don’t care if some or all of these points were explained in the book, the main narrative could have explained these points as it was simple enough but it didn’t.
The Last Unicorn is weird mix of simplicity and overly convoluted with bland yet likable characters and interesting ideas but with all that said I enjoyed with movie. It’s watchable and engaging even with all its issues.
And Don’t Forget The Red Bull says that to herd Unicorns to sea you need the revitalizing power of Red Bull, it gives you wings. Couldn’t resist.Follow thehunchblog