Review by Carson Hearne
Running Time: 1 hour 33 minutes
MPAA Rating: G
(based on The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle)
Written by: Peter S. Beagle
Directed by: Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass
Starring: Alan Arkin, Mia Farrow, Jeff Bridges, Tammy Grimes, Robert Klein, Angela Lansbury, Christopher Lee, Keenan Wynn, Paul Frees, and Rene Auberjonois
Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass are mostly known for their christmas specials (Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, etc.) and their animated Tolkien adaptions. Another animated adaption that they took part in was this little “girl” animated gem, The Last Unicorn. One wouldn’t expect a film like this to be a beautiful piece of animation with an honest and mesmerizing story with enjoyable characters.
A young unicorn (Mia Farrow) overhears that she could possibly be the last of her species. After hearing, she travels out of her realm to find out the truth behind these assumptions. Along the way she befriends a magician named Schmedrick (Alan Arkin) and Molly Grue (Tammy Grimes). She finds out on her journey that she must go to the castle of King Haggard (Christopher Lee) and confront him in his genocide of the unicorns. Upon reaching, she has been mistakenly turned into a human and falls in the with the son of King Haggard, Price Lir (Jeff Bridges).
I was honestly very surprised at the talent behind this film. The acting and direction, as well as the beautifully executed animation. This film is a great mix of drama and comedy as well as withstanding a sense of reality. The Last Unicorn really takes on some tough topics, even if it wasn’t a kid’s movie. It’s bold and honest and the characters make the whole story and idea work. The music isn’t awful either, but eventually it just begins to feel like the same old stuff and really doesn’t add anything great to the film.
“But what if it isn’t a happy ending?” asks one character to another in the toughest part of the story, the other character replies “there’s never happy endings, because nothing ends.” I feel these quotes are great capsules of what makes The Last Unicorn a great animation film, it is brutally honest even in the darkest of times. But, not even five minutes before this quote is said, is some of the greatest comic relief I’ve ever seen. A character named simply as The Skull, played by Rene Auberjonois, is greeting all of our protagonists as they are trying to race against the clock (quite literally). The moment makes for some great laughs and charm.
The climax of the film is immensely satisfying and ends with a great message of everything won’t turn out exactly the way you want it to, but that’s okay. If you’re biased about watching this film (I certainly was, my girlfriend forced me to watch it) due to the thought of it being a girly little kid’s movie, put your thoughts aside and just sit down and enjoy yourself. I feel any fan of fantasy film or Jim Henson-esque films would love this. I must say that it definitely beats The Dark Crystal any day of the week.