Friday, February 15, 2019
A Horse and It's Horn
This is my entry in the Angela Lansbury Blogathon hosted by Realweegiemidget Reviews.
What would you do if you found out you were the last of your kind? (Being "one of a kind" doesn't count. It would be a fruitless endeavor to find another me... And before you think I'm being egotistical, you are "one of a kind", too.)
Peter S. Beagle created an endearing classic in 1968 with a fantasy novel called The Last Unicorn. It has had a profound effect on many who have read it. The novel ranks in the top 20 of all-time classic fantasy novels. The story of a unicorn seeking out the truth of whether sh is indeed the last of her kind could not fail to leave at least some impression on the reader. After all, the need for companionship of one's own kind is the force that drives everyone to venture out beyond the four walls of their own home.
In 1982, the animated production company of Rankin/Bass, those purveyors of such animated Christmas gems such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Little Drummer Boy, Frosty the Snowman, and 'Twas the Night Before Christmas brought to the big screen an animated version of the beloved tale. The studio only made a handful of full length movies, but with the exception of The Hobbit, I imagine you haven't seen or even heard of the full length movie oeuvre. This one is one that deserves a look, however.
Angela Lansbury, although her role is rather brief, plays a decidedly more diabolical witch than you would imagine. Miss Eglatine Price, in other words she is not (and kudos if you didn't have to google that to find out who I am referencing...) But I imagine you could come up with a smattering of other characters she played who are even more diabolical (this is children's animation, remember. Can't have Mrs. Iselin batting down the door.)
The Last Unicorn (1982):
In a forest, a group of hunters determine that the reason that they are unsuccessful on their hunt is that a unicorn must live in the forest, and her magical aura protects all that live in it. As they ride away, one calls out a warning that she may indeed be the last of her kind. The Unicorn (Mia Farrow) begins to wonder if what she has heard is true.
A butterfly (Robert Klein) appears at her side and sings and tells crazy riddles, but the upshot is that he tells her that all the unicorns in the world have been herded away by a mysterious beast known only as The Red Bull. She decides to go off and leave the forest in search of the other unicorns.
On her way, she is captured by an evil witch / sideshow entrepreneur named Mommy Fortuna (Angela Lansbury). Along with Ruhk (Brother Theodore), her henchman, an an incompetent wizard named Shmendrick (Alan Arkin), she gulls the public into believing she has a manticore (which is really an old lion), a satyr (which is really a decrepit chimp) and a Midgard Serpent (which is really just a plain ordinary snake). She casts magic spells on the all, both to keep them in line, as well as to fleece the unsuspecting public.
She also keeps a real harpy, which she uses her magic to keep docile (but her magic is only so strong.) When she finds the unicorn she captures it too. She knows it is a unicorn, but most of the public would only see it as a white horse, so she casts a spell on the unicorn, giving it a magical horn so the foolish crowd will see what she wants them to see.
Eventually Schmendrick helps the Unicorn escape and accompanies her on her quest. Along the way they also acquire a female companion, Molly Grue (Tammy Grimes). The trio continue on until they reach the kingdom of King Haggard (Christopher Lee). It turns out that Haggard is the actual keeper of the Red Bull and uses him to capture all the other unicorns. As the trio approach Haggard's castle, the red Bull appears and immediately tries to corral the Unicorn.
Schmendrick saves the day (sort of). He turns the unicorn into a beautiful woman and the Red Bull immediately loses interest. (She's no longer a unicorn, so the bull thinks the unicorn disappeared.) Upon reaching the castle, Schmendrick introduces themselves, calling the unicorn "Lady Amalthea". Haggard's son Prince Lir (Jeff Bridges) is immediately smitten with Amathea.
The unicorn, now Amalthea, begins to suffer from the transformation as she gradually becomes more human and is beginning to forget not only that she was a unicorn, but what had brought her on this quest in the first place. And she iso beginning to fall in love with the Prince, and eventually starts to think she'd prefer to remain human, even though it will means she would eventually die.
One must leave some things for the viewer to find for him or herself, so I won't tell you how it all turns out in the end. Suffice to say this is an entertaining film for all ages.
Well, it will never look like a unicorn (or anything even halfway as beautiful), but this Plymouth will still get me home. Drive safely, folks.