(Unofficially) Peter S. Beagle

Unicorn Movie 
Movie poster

The Last Unicorn (animated movie)
screenplay Peter S. Beagle
Originally aired in 1981

Unicorn Video 
Video box cover

One of the most beloved animated movies of all time, The Last Unicorn is based on the book of the same name. Peter S. Beagle himself wrote the screenplay, and while time constraints necessitated some editing of the novel, the basic storyline comes through beautifully.

A unicorn, alone in her forest, overhears a remark by some hunters one day, stating that she is the last of her kind. She shrugs it off to the folly of humans, who think that just because they don't see something, it doesn't exist. But then a traveller from far-off lands, an eccentric butterfly, brings her news of the unicorns' plight, and repeats the assertion that she is truly the last.

She sets out from her forest, her home, and searches for her missing brethren. Along the way, she is joined by a magician who can perform no magic, and a woman who spent her younger years searching for a unicorn, only to have her girlish fantasy appear long after she had stopped looking for it. The three of them set out on the long and forbidding road, seeking the unicorns.

In 1981, Rankin-Bass released the animated version of this timeless classic. Rumor has it that there were several attempts to bring the book to the silver screen, including one live action version, but none made it past the planning stage.) The movie was actually a collaboration between Rankin-Bass in the US, providing the story and dialogue (by Beagle), music (by America singing Jimmy Webb's songs), while a team of animators from Japan gave the movie its the heavy anime style.

I'm not about to go into much more detail than this about the animated movie. For more information, see Marc Hairston's excellent "The Last Unicorn" page and FAQ, covering such items as the possible meaning of characters' names, what different versions of the movie there were, an in-depth discussion of the various animators, etc.

Even to this day, people are still discovering the magic of The Last Unicorn. A dear friend of mine recently wrote: "I just spent the last hour and a half watching The Last Unicorn with my two daughters (ages 6 and 4). It was the best time with them. I will have them totally into fantasy when they get old enough to pick up their own books. My oldest said the unicorn was so pretty and so very brave to fight the big bad red bull. then the youngest wanted to know where all the unicorns are hiding at now, she also wants to know if we can go to the ocean to see them..."

Internet Movie Database information on the movie.

Marc Hairston has a page devoted to the making of the movie, including information about the partnership between Studio Ghibli and Rankin-Bass, an interview with the animators for a Japanese fan magazine, and some great promotional posters from Japan.

* Mark also keeps The Last Unicorn FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) list, detailing such tidbits as what the characters' names might mean, different versions of the movie, etc.


All material copyright Kim Flournoy, 1999-2007, except where noted. Click here for information about this site. Please send all questions, comments, or suggestions to webmaster@peterbeagle.com.