Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Last Unicorn

When I was a little girl, my favorite movie was, without doubt, The Last Unicorn.

 Growing up and seeing it again, it’s a little silly. The character designs are so-so (except of the unicorn herself), and there are a couple of songs that are kind of cringe-worthy (the ones sung out of pitch by Amalthea and Prince Lir).

But there’s still a lot of magic there. The dialogue is amazing, and the story itself is unusual and beautiful. And yes, I still tear up at the first song. And when she gets turned into a girl. And the ending. I still cry a lot at the ending.

But then, as I mentioned in my Awesome List post, I read the book, and it was beyond incredible. Every beautiful bit of dialogue was lifted directly from the book. And upon reading that, almost ten years ago, Peter S. Beagle became one of the authors I want to emulate (not just for that book, though I do love the particular writing style he uses there).

Imagine my delight, then, to learn that Peter Beagle is taking The Last Unicorn movie on tour. They show the movie in the theater, Peter answers audience questions, they raffle off some prizes, and then there’s a signing. (Interesting but sad fact: up until a short while ago, Peter didn’t receive any money whatsoever from the movie or video sales, even though he wrote both the book AND the script).

Artwork outside the theater

It was so much fun. Peter was extremely generous and friendly with his answers, especially since he must have been asked these same questions hundreds of times before. Here are a few highlights: 

-He had to entirely scrap the first draft of the book, which had the unicorn’s companion as a two-headed demon that had been expelled from hell. To my surprise, they’re actually releasing that version in a few years as part of a special anniversary edition, I think.
 -Peter thinks that the character that most resembles him in the Last Unicorn is the butterfly, because his mind also works in bits and phrases of music and poetry.
 -When he signed my book, I asked who some of his biggest literary/writing style influences were in writing the book. Unfortunately, it was kind of loud and I couldn’t hear what he said, and I was too shy to ask him to repeat himself. I did catch T.H. White, and James Thurber. 
-The live action movie rights revert to Peter in 2015. They're actually very interested in making a live version, and covering a lot of the things in the book that didn't translate well to animation. Christopher Lee would apparently be interested in taking part again! 

Right now the schedule of the tour (on the main website here) is somewhat limited, but they’ll be adding more dates soon. They also had a lot of cool stuff on sale, including art prints, t-shirts, and the entire book in teeny tiny print on a poster (!).

So I highly recommend the tour if you loved the movie as a kid and would like to see it again, or if you have little ones who might love the movie - who knows when you'll next have the chance to see it in a theater?


  1. Well, you've made me want to read the book. As a kid, I was hooked on unicorns. A few years ago I read a book by Beagle called Tamsin, and enjoyed it very much. (Featured Irish Legend characters.)

  2. I've seen the movie, but I still haven't read the book. I need to do that.

    This tour sounds pretty awesome, but it's not making stops to my little city, and I doubt it ever will. Thanks for sharing your experience. Sounds like it was amazing.


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