Remus Arthur Potter, you were named after two men who looked out for my safety and cared about my well-being out of altruism and decency rather than because I was a tool for them to use or because I was someone’s son.
if i ever become famous i’m so fucked i’ve been in too many fandoms on too many different websites for far too long there’s no erasing all the evidence
"The Last Unicorn" rides again
I’ve been in some eccentric crowds, but the hundreds of people I joined Wednesday night at the Riverview Theater in Minneapolis were…right up there. There were confused-looking elderly couples, young mothers with their kids, teens with horns sprouting from their foreheads, twentysomethings with red spots in the same place, a woman in a princess dress, multiple people of both sexes in brightly colored wigs, and a guy with a bullhorn who ran around asking random people, “Do you have the power of the unicorn?”
It was a screening of The Last Unicorn, the 1982 Rankin-Bass animated film based on the 1968 novel by Peter S. Beagle. The author, now 75, was himself present, at the end of a long receiving line where he was greeting fans and signing merch.
I’d arrived with only the dimmest idea of what I was getting myself into. I had the evening free, and I noticed someone on Facebook posting excitedly about the screening. I’d never seen the movie, which came out when I was seven, but I vaguely remembered seeing advertisements for the film. Just thinking about it brought me back to the pre-on-demand days, when just because you might have wanted to see something didn’t mean you actually could—especially if you were a kid.
There was about an hour of proceedings before the screening actually began: first the autograph line; then a rundown of the merch on sale; some brief, graceful remarks by Beagle (“I find I get more curious, rather than less, as I get older”); a sometimes-awkward Q&A (one guy told Beagle that he fathered a unicorn in prison); and a raffle that culminated with two young girls winning shirts that said, DAMN YOU, PETER S. BEAGLE, IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT.
That, Beagle’s editor explained, was a reference to the fact that—in the Beagle camp’s estimation—Beagle “invented the female unicorn.” All previous literary unicorns, we were told, had been male, so it was the man standing before us who had inaugurated the wave of female unicorns that led to our Lisa Frank world, where boys don’t like to read unicorn books.
Is that true? I mean, there I was, a 39-year-old man, at a Last Unicorn screening…but then, I had some Lisa Frank stickers, too, back in the day. Anyway, it certainly is true that classic unicorns were decidedly male—they could only be tamed by virgin women, eyebrow waggle, eyebrow waggle—and in a genre then dominated by the masculine mythos of Middle-Earth, Beagle’s one-horned heroine must have been a welcome breath of fresh air for female fantasy lovers.
Beagle told us that Rankin-Bass—the legendary animators best-known, then and now, for their Rudolph and Frosty Christmas specials—weren’t his first choice, that in fact he hated everything they’d done prior to The Last Unicorn and he regarded them as barely a step above Hanna-Barbera in terms of artistry. He’s cool with the film, though: “The Last Unicorn is the best thing they’ve ever done, and they know it.”
The film itself has all the majestic weirdness of a quintessential cult movie. Set in a colorful Medieval fantasy land, it has the highly stylized title character (voiced by Mia Farrow) going on a quest to find her fellows—who turn out to be bleakly imprisoned by an evil king. To learn this, the unicorn must magically take a completely naked and extremely sexy human form; the film’s G rating seems to have been preserved by giving the unicorn’s human manifestation breasts but not nipples. This film must be ground zero for the I-want-to-have-sex-with-a-unicorn contingent, which I’m sure is sizable and now might even include me.
There were gasps of excitement (“Take my money now!” cried a woman in the front row) when Beagle’s editor mentioned the idea of a Last Unicorn live-action film. Apparently the novel’s live-action film rights have been tied up for the past 15 years, but will revert to Beagle as of February 2015, and studios are already lining up. Beagle and his team are now enlisting a “fan army” to “swoop in” if it looks like the next producer to have a go at the project mucks things up.
I’d like to say I left the theater humming the movie’s theme song, but as written by Jimmy Webb and performed by America (wouldn’t Europe have been more appropriate?), the film’s several songs are lovably clumsy. I think my favorite was the duet between Farrow and Jeff Bridges, who voices the prince who shows her what love is—though there’s a nice twist just when you think the film’s conclusion is going to take a traditional turn. I’ll just say this: male virgins seemingly can’t tame unicorns as readily as female virgins can.
a guide for people who can’t tell the 90s from the early 2000s apart
- if people are dressed in neon, it’s the 90s
if people are dressed in space age metallics, it’s the 2000s