One of my favorite animated movies when I was a kid was the Last Unicorn. I was (and still am) a fan of the fantasy genre – plus, what little girl doesn’t have a soft spot for unicorns? Unicorns kick ass. And yet I had never read the book the movie was based on. It’s definitely a young adult read – excellent fodder for Harry Potter fans not yet ready to take on Tolkien.
The book begins one day when the last unicorn hears a rumor that there are no more unicorns in the world – that she is the last. The rumor disturbs her, so she sets out in search of the others. She quickly encounters human beings, most of whom don’t see a unicorn when they look at her – they see a white mare. Which brings us to a pivotal question in the story – are we who others perceive us to be or are we who we perceive ourselves to be? I think it is an excellent question to be posed to the target audience of young adult readers.
I am pleased to report that the book is excellent, even a little better than the movie. Not much, but a little. Schmedrick’s story is more compelling, and Lir’s character evolves more. Other than that, the book lost very little in the translation to film. There’s no question in my mind that the reason is Beagle’s involvement – he wrote the screenplay. Now, that’s the way to do it when adapting a book to the silver screen! (If at all possible…)
I won’t ruin the ending for anyone who is unfamiliar with the work. What I will say is that this is a keeper. I’m going to have to get a nice copy of this one some day – and the movie. 😉