Originally, this was a novel
written by Peter S. Beagle
in 1977, about the quest
of the last unicorn
remaining in the world to find and rescue others of her kind. The story is quite deep and magical
, and written on several levels, much like the novel The Princess Bride
. According to Marc Hairston's Last Unicorn
page, "Peter S. Beagle himself has written that the book is sort of 'a personal I Ching
, which gives me no advice, no handy warnings, but slowly tells me things I had forgotten, or hidden from myself.'"
The Last Unicorn seems to have struck a similar chord among many people. Trying various derivations of the name in a web browser or search engine brings up the expected fan pages, but also a wrought-iron fence company, two different multimedia web design companies, and a used compact disc company--and that's just from five minutes of looking. There has also been a roleplaying game company by that name, which was subsequently purchased by Wizards of the Coast.
In 1982, a Rankin-Bass animated movie based on the book was released, with a script co-written by Beagle, starring the likes of Alan Arkin, Jeff Bridges, Mia Farrow, Tammy Grimes, Angela Lansbury, Christopher Lee, Rene Auberjonois, and Brother Theodore. Though parts had to be shortened for the sake of time, the movie remained true to the spirit of the book. The soundtrack was done by America, with some help by Jeff Bridges and Mia Farrow for the songs by their characters. (On the German soundtrack CD, Farrow's voice was, thankfully, replaced by that of someone who could actually carry a tune!) The title song was covered, more recently, by Kenny Loggins on his Return to Pooh Corner children's-song CD; it has also been covered by various other acts, in different ways--including a rave version, of all things.
The animated movie was recently rereleased on anamorphic Region 2 PAL DVD in Germany, and can be had from amazon.de for about $32 including shipping. This requires a hacked DVD player, of course.
There is also a new Last Unicorn in the offing (which will, undoubtedly, give rise to quite a few jokes about the "next to the last" unicorn). This one is called The Last Unicorn: The Movie, and will be made as a combination of live action and CGI. Christopher Lee, Angela Lansbury, and Rene Auberjonois have already signed on to reprise their animated roles, and Peter S. Beagle has written a completely new script (which is available on-line at the movie's official website).
URLs of Interest:
- Marc Hairston's Last Unicorn page: http://utd500.utdallas.edu/~hairston/lastunicorn.html
- Marc Hairston's Last Unicorn FAQ: http://utd500.utdallas.edu/~hairston/lufaq.html
- The Last Unicorn: The Movie official site: http://www.the-last-unicorn.net