This Entire Movie is About Sex! A Look at “The Last Unicorn” Movie
I have such fond memories of this movie. I really do love it. I also really love the book that it is based on. There are so many things about this movie that I adore. It is also one of the movies that I cringe a little when I think about my parents letting me watch it as a child. If you’ve read my list of ten cartoons that probably shouldn’t have wholly been marketed to children then you probably have a good idea of a few of the reasons. You can read that by clicking here. There are a lot of great things about this film though. So, let’s take the awesome and the “why is that in a children’s film” and learn why everyone should watch this film regardless of age…just watch it before you decide on whether or not you want your kids watching it. Fair warning, this is riddled with spoilers. So, you may just want to read this to decide if you want your kids to watch it. I will not mark the spoilers since this film is older than I am. Yep, it was released before I was born and I still love it. Still one of my favorite movies.
We will start off with the music. I get to brag on my home state some more! Go Oklahoma! Jimmy Webb wrote all the music for this movie. He was born in Elk City, Oklahoma, a city known for Coronado walking by the area where it now sits and that President Carter visited twice. Oh, and Historic Route 66 goes through it… Not much happens in Elk City. Oddly enough, the actual album for the soundtrack was never released in America. It was only released in Germany, the name of the film there is Das Letzte Einhorn. The thing that I find amusing about this is that the band that sings the main theme of the whole film which takes it’s name from the movie title, is performed by America. The music is amazing. Seriously, this has got to be one of the best soundtracks for any animated film. It is beautiful. The main theme you really have to pay attention to, but it sets up the whole film and it’s really sad. I mean, who writes lyrics like
When the first breath of winter through the flowers is icing
and you look to the north and a pale moon is rising
and it seems like all is dying and would leave the world to morn.
When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning
and the future has passed without even a last desperate warning,
then look into the sky where through the clouds a path is torn.
with the anguished chorus of the line “I’m alive” sandwiched between them and not expect people to be just a bit sad when they hear it. You also get the coming of age-ish song called “Now That I’m a Woman”. It makes you think by asking such deep questions about who were you as a “child”. You also find out how lonely the world can be if you isolate yourself for being yourself. Then there is my favorite song from the whole movie. Call it cheesy, and in reality, it is and the way it’s introduced in the film makes it even more so. Also, Dang! Jeff Bridges can sing! He isn’t the best singer in the world, but still, that’s actually singing in the song. That song is one of those songs that is so cheesy that you really don’t want to admit to liking, but it really is pretty. The background music is so subtle that at times you really don’t notice that it’s there, but you notice that it was there if you go online and watch scenes with the music muted.
The casting for the voices was great! It has my favourite actor of all time in it! Yay Christopher Lee! He does the voice for King Haggard in English…and German. What an awesome dude he is. Jeff Bridges is also in the film as I mentioned. He does the voice for Prince Lir. Alan Arkin was Schmendrick and apparently people didn’t like him in that part. Not sure why that is. I thought he was good. Mia Farrow is the voice of the Unicorn/Lady Amalthea. Molly is voiced by Tammy Grimes. The cast was wonderful for this film and I never saw an issue with any of them. It didn’t have as much of an issue with some older films of the mouths not always matching the voices. Good job guys.
The story is wonderful and it adapts the novel wonderfully. Of course, when you have the screenplay written by the person that wrote the novel, that is to be expected. It was written by Peter S. Beagle. There is quite a bit of magic in this story and at times, it can be a bit frightening. Mommy Fortuna is a bit of an oddball and when it comes to the scene at her Midnight Carnival we find out that out of the magical beasts only the Unicorn and Celaeno the Harpy are the real deal. The rest are just old or injured animals that have spells cast on them to make them look like mythical creatures. By the way, a harpy is a half woman creature and that half woman part has three breasts and is nude in this movie. We see Captain Cully and his merry bandits, but really the only thing they contribute to the movie is that the Unicorn and Schmendrick, that followed the Unicorn from Mommy Fortuna’s, gain Captain Cully’s lover, Molly Grue, as a traveling companion. They end up at King Haggard’s castle with the Unicorn that is by this time the human Lady Amalthea. Amalthea falls in love with Prince Lir, King Haggard’s adopted son. Thanks to the drunk, talking skeleton, Amalthea, Schmendrick, and Molly learn that the Red Bull that has been seen pushing all the other unicorns into the sea is through the clock. In the end, Amalthea is changed back into a unicorn and is the only one of her kind that can feel regret and has known love. Semi happy ending for all. The unicorns are free to roam again, Schmendrick becomes a true magician, Molly may or may not have fallen in love with Schmendrick and left her bandit lover, and Prince Lir gets some friends for the first time and despite loosing the woman he loves because she is a unicorn again we learn that “she will remember your heart when men are fairy tales and books written by rabbits”. Huzzah?
Does this animation style look familiar to you all? If you’ve seen the films Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, the animated versions of The Hobbit and The Return of the King, Sherlock Hound, and Twas the Night Before Christmas then it should look very familiar. The animation studio that worked on these films, and other was called Topcraft. However, the company was dissolved in the June of 1985 after going bankrupt. When this happened something amazing happened! Hayao Miyazaki, with Toshio Suzuki and Isao Takahata, purchased the studio that he had worked with on his first full length film that was truly his own, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. The company that resulted from this is called Studio Ghibli. Studio Ghibli is now one of the most famous animation studios in the world! The animation in this film is so beautiful! For it’s time, this has some of the best animation for an American film. That is probably because of the Topcraft though. I’m not complaining. I love it.
Ooo! Ooo! Can I be a huge major nerd that makes her Medieval Studies professor proud? I can? Great! Check out this video of the opening sequence with the overly sad theme song mentioned above.
Look at that beautiful tapestry like animation that it shows. Isn’t that just the bee knees? I think so. It is based on a series of Dutch tapestries called The Hunt of the Unicorn. There are seven of these tapestries. While most of them are full panels, one only has a couple of fragments left of it. The seventh tapestry is also shown in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince movie. This particular portion of the tapistry is the one that is most featured in this animation. See if you can identify the parts.
This portion of the tapestry is called The Unicorn is Found. Several other parts of the tapestry are seen throughout the film as well.
Now, why would I say that this entire film is about sex? Unicorns are said to represent purity and they could only be truly captured and held by a virgin. The whole scene with the Red Bull actually represents a loss of innocence. He also represents masculinity that over powers the feminine unicorn. The harpy represents punishment for crimes against the pure in spirit and heart. The unicorn changing into a human is a change in one’s self that comes with maturity. Clever story of the coming of age disguised as a fantasy story.
Go watch this movie! It’s great and fun to see if you can identify the adult themes hidden in the pretty “children’s” story.