(1982) dir. Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin, Jr.
This was the first of what would be my little early 1980’s Fantasy double feature, inspired by a co-worker, who had recommended both films. Neither of which had I seen before. For this film, The Last Unicorn, it was kind of strange, as I was a pretty avid moviegoer by this time in my life and rarely missed animated films. Co-directed by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin, Jr., the directors of the television versions of The Hobbit (1977) and The Return of the King (1980), and carries on the animation style of those two rather decent TV animation features.
Adapted from a well-known novel by Peter S. Beagle, the film’s greatest strength is its story, a quest by the last known unicorn to find out what has happened to all her brethren. With a voice cast including Angela Lansbury, Christopher Lee, and Mia Farrow, among many other notable others, this film was clearly not total bottom-of-the-barrel fare. As the unicorn gains friends and adventures, the story unfolds at a reasonable pace and certainly has its charm.
It’s greatest weakness is its soundtrack, performed in large part by the heinous rock band America and occasionally painfully by apparently Farrow herself. There are a few full-blown America songs as well as a couple of musical numbers as well. Not only do these break the pacing of the better parts of the story, but they also make one crawl the walls and one’s stomach to painfully churn.
It’s a decent film, with some reasonable sentiment, though somewhat betrayed by the period of its construction and production. Interestingly, this will have a similar echo in the second of this double feature.