Retro Review: The Last Unicorn (1982)

A beautiful unicorn sets out to learn if she truly is the last of her kind and finds adventure along the way
unicorn

Synopsis: A beautiful unicorn sets out to learn if she truly is the last of her kind and finds adventure along the way in this musical gem from Rankin & Bass.

 

The Story

When a young female Unicorn overhears some hunters say that she is the last of her kind. She goes off on a search to find out what happened. Along the way, she meets a magical butterfly who tells her that all the other unicorns ran away from a giant red bull. So off she goes in search of a Red Bull and along the way she meets a clumsy magician called Schmendrick and a young outlaw by the name of Molly Grue. Together the group faces many dangers, but they eventually find the answers they are looking for in the Kingdom of King Haggard and his son Prince Lir.

 

The Animation

For an animated film made in 1982. I think The Last Unicorn holds up fairly well. I loved the fantasy imagery of the film and the Unicorn along with her friends were all drawn beautifully. Obviously, it’s 2D animation and all done in a time before we had digital technology, which makes it look all the more beautiful as sometimes I can find Digital animation to be a little too good.

I was quite surprised to learn a while back that this movie was produced and directed by Rankin & Bass who were better known for their stop motion animation work on some of the most memorable children’s Christmas films. This was kind of surprising because to my knowledge Rankin & Bass had only really done stop motion work until this point.

Either way. The animation is fantastically done. I especially loved some of the drawings of unicorns that we see later in the film when the action goes to King Haggard’s castle.

 

Voice Acting

This is where the film falls a little flat for me. The voice cast includes some pretty big names from the day. Some of which are still very well known and loved even today. However, at times it seemed like some of the character performances fell a little flat. Alan Arkin who voiced the role of Schmendrick seems to nail his part some of the time, but fall a little off the mark at other times. His performance felt a little inconsistent to me. Mia Farrow was fairly consistent throughout the film. But the strongest and best voice acting came from the late great Christopher Lee who was very believable as King Haggard. We also get a star turn from the late Rene Auberjonois as Skull who only has a short scene in the film. But Auberjonois owns it. 

 

Overall

The Last Unicorn managed to enchant me for a second time. Prior to writing this review, I had only watched the film once, and that was back in 1982. The film sees our Unicorn go on a series of small adventures that eventually lead her to King Haggard. The pacing of the movie could be a little slow at times, but for me, that didn’t matter so much because I was just enjoying the visual elements of the wildlife, characters, and various environments. That being said. I’m not too sure if this would be a hit or a miss with modern children given that by today’s standards the animation may seem a little dated. Also, modern kids are used to a faster pace of storytelling when it comes to TV and Film.

To sum up. I enjoyed revisiting this film. I’ve had it on Blu-Ray for ages, but only got around to watching it this weekend. And I wasn’t disappointed. It’s pure escapism and makes you wish that Unicorns were real.

 

You can get hold of a Blu-Ray edition of this movie on the Amazon Marketplace. It is also available to rent via Amazon Prime, but unfortunately, that edition is the standard definition version. So if you want HD. Your best bet is the Blu-Ray version.

8.7
The Last Unicorn
  • Story
    9.0
  • Voice Acting
    7.5
  • Animation
    8.9
  • Incidental Music
    9.5

Ian Cullen is the founder of scifipulse.net and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: www.scifipulseradio.com When he is not writing for scifipulse.net Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of scifipulse.net You can contact ian at: ian@scifipulse.net
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