Do any of these faces look familiar?
If they do, chances are you were a young girl growing up between the early eighties to mid-nineties. And that’s awesome. Why? Because The Last Unicorn is making a second round in popularity right in time for your kids to fall in love.
Like The Princess Bride, it’s not particularly widely known that The Last Unicorn is based on a beautiful novel by Peter S. Beagle. Beagle has been popping up all over on the comic convention circuit for the last couple of years. I have met him a couple times and you couldn’t meet a kinder, more gentle man. The first time I met him, he took a good thirty minutes out of his schedule to chat with me about writing, unicorns, and Molly Grue. I told him, “I grew up with The Last Unicorn and I can’t even tell you what it meant to me as a child,” to which he replied, “I think I know a little of what you mean because I never got to meet my favorite childhood authors and tell them that. So now it means something to me, too.”
If The Last Unicorn meant something to you as well, now you can take your kids to a screening of the original film when it comes to your neck of the woods. The wonderful thing about this tour is that Beagle specifically looks for sites that will allow him the space to meet and sign for fans. Their goal is to make it to as many places as possible over the next two years, so even if you don’t see your home theater on the list, you can always check back later and see if it’s been added.
If it’s not and you still want a signed copy of the film (or the novel, or any other merchandise), going through Beagle’s publisher’s website will guarantee that the author gets a cut. Due to some contractual unpleasantness with the original DVD and VHS publishers, this is the only way that Beagle gets any royalties from the film his novel inspired and the screenplay he wrote. Going through the website does offer another bonus though as you can get it either signed or personalized for a small fee.
Be warned. Amazon’s reviews of the film will remind you if it’s been a while since you’ve seen the film that parts of it may not be considered G-rated anymore. The harpy has bare breasts (although if you aren’t looking for them, you might miss ’em), and there’s a, ‘damn,’ or two. There’s also this terrifying moment which the graces of age may have allowed you to forget. The DVD comes with a way to change to a censored version if you’re concerned. While it’s still a kid’s film by and far, if you’re concerned about how your kids might react, you may want to check it out for yourself first before making a call.
The tour isn’t the only exciting thing Last Unicorn fans have had recently. Back in 2011, Beagle, along with comic artist Peter Gilles (of Marvel and First Comics fame) released a gorgeous fully illustrated graphic novel version of the novel. A deluxe edition was released even more recently. As with all his other stuff, buying it directly from the publisher will get you a signed and/or personalized edition.
This is probably my favorite version of the story. The beauty of the art does nothing but enhance the beauty of the story, but it has callbacks to the animation and character designs in the Rankin Bass cartoon to stroke my nostalgia muscle, while remaining slightly more true to the novel.
If you’re concerned about your child watching the cartoon and don’t think they can handle the novel on their own, why not start by reading the graphic novel together? You can still bring a little bit of the wonder of your own childhood into their lives with an entirely new version of the old tale.