Rev. Warlock DRACONIS BLACKTHORNE (dblackthorne) wrote,

The Last Unicorn

Spechtreum: Infernal Progeny

The Last Unicorn
{XVI A.S. Directed by Jules Bass & Arthur Rankin Jr. Starring Christopher Lee, Mia Farrow, Keenan Wynn, Jeff Bridges, Alan Arkin}

The enchanting story of a lone unicorn searching for the meaning of her existence, and any others of her kind, but comes to find out that the others are being kept prisoner in the waves of the ocean by a tyrant who lives in a black castle on a cliff's edge overlooking the raging ocean that is their keep, enforced by an enormous demonic red bull, forcing them back into the waves upon any attempt at escape.

An amusing singing butterfly circles around her in the beginning, singing many fanciful songs but providing clues here and there for her journey.

Unicorn: Say my name then. If you know my name, tell it to me.
The Butterfly: [quoting Romeo & Juliet] Your name is a golden bell hung in my heart. I would break my body to pieces to call you once by your name...!
Unicorn: Say it, if you know.
The Butterfly: Rumpelstiltskin! Gotcha!

During her quest, she meets "Mama Fortuna", a witch-hag with a tree stump for a hat, who is accompanied by an ogre-like henchman and a bumbling wanna'-be "magician" named "Schmendrick" {which I have come to call occultniks}.

Schmendrick: I am Schmendrick the magician, last of the red hot swamis.

Fortuna runs a travelling carnival sideshow which features a satyr, harpie, and a manticor, among other creatures of legend for the awe and gawkings of villagers. She feels she hits bank when she discovers and captures the unicorn for display, who warns her that the harpie will one day take her due, and can see through the spell placed upon these others who amount to nothing more than an old toothless lion and a monkey.

Mommy Fortuna: The harpy's as real as you are, and just as immortal. And she was just as easy to catch, if you want to know.
Unicorn: Do not boast, old woman. You death sits in that cage, and she hears you.
Mommy Fortuna: Oh, she'll kill me one day or another. But she will remember forever that I caught her, and I held her prisoner. So there's my immortality, eh?
Unicorn: Let me go. And let her go to. I cannot bear to see her caged. We are two sides of the same magic... The harpy and me, we are not for you.

Schmendrick decides to help the unicorn and eventually accompanies her in her escape and quest to the dark castle. A country wench 'Molly Grue' joins them, regretful that the unicorn did not visit her when she was "new", yet becomes her servant nonetheless.

Molly: Where were you twenty years ago? Ten years ago? Where were you when I was new? When I was one of those innocent young maidens you always come to? How dare you! How dare you come to me now, when I am this!

At The Castle, the unicorn is transformed into 'Lady Amalthea' {Mia Farrow} and meets King Haggard {Christopher Lee}, Prince Lir {Jeff Bridges}, along with a talking pirate cat and an obnoxious though entertaining skeleton with a penchant for wine. Amalthea falls in love with Prince Lir, which keeps her from changing back into the unicorn for awhile. As the mortal Lady Amalthea, the transformed unicorn feels her magic diminishing, the longer she remains a woman, and can feel her new body "dying all around her".

The group gather the clues and finally reach the other unicorns where both Schmendrick and Prince Lir battle The Red Bull.

The Skull: To get to the Red Bull's chamber, you must go through time. A clock isn't time; it's only gears and springs. Pay it no mind.
The Cat: When the wine drinks itself, when the skull speaks, when the clock strikes the right time, only then will you find the funnel that leads to the Red Bull. There be a trick to it, of course.

The Last Unicorn features an "all-star" cast, and the folkish music of 'America', which actually works quite well here.

Overall, it seems the Last Unicorn is a "coming of age" tale, the journey of a girl into womanhood until finally finding her purpose in life.

Unicorn: [now a woman] I am afraid of this mortal body... more afraid than I was of the Red Bull.
Unicorn: Once, I can't remember, I was long ago, someone strange. I was innocent and wise, and full of pain. Now that I'm a woman, everything has changed. Once, when I was searching, somewhere out of reach, far away, in a place I could not find, or heart obey. Now that I'm a woman, everything is strange.

Another one of those late-night films I caught once, which remains an evocation. There certainly is a compassion-inducing quality to the unicorn's plight, as well as the music used. The Red Bull is a remarkable beast, and King Haggard, a compelling character.

Tags: film review, spechtreum

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