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Bri Meets Books

Children's and YA literature reviews.

I am doing Film Fridays now again. This is where I blog about a movie that’s a book, or a book I’d like to  see to adapted into a movie. I stopped doing these for awhile mainly because of Blogger was a nightmare on formatting and I wanted to save my energy writing reviews and dealing with those errors rather than something that was a meme.

Bella at A Bibliophile’s Bookshelf and Jo at Ink and Paper decided to ask the blogosphere what were the Top 101 Fantasy Reads?  After 20,000 votes, the list was announced, with The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle at #91.  I was surprised at how many book bloggers weren’t familiar with the book OR its animated film version, a cult classic.

unicornbutterflyThis movie and book are one of my favorites all of all time.

In 1968, The Last Unicorn was published.   Since 1968, more than five million copies of the novel had been sold and it’s never been out of print.    In 1982, an athelastunicornbooknimated version was  released.  Starring Christopher Lee, Angela Lansbury, Mia Farrow, Alan Arkin and Jeff Bridges.

The title says its all. An unicorn is the last of her kind.  Spurred by riddles spouted by a nonsensical butterfly, she learns of the unicorns’ fate: they were driven away to another land by a menacing Red Bull.  She must go on a journey and find them, or she will truly be the last unicorn.  While on her journey, she encounters a hapless magician (Schmendrick), a bandit’s wife (Molly Grue)  and they face the master of the Red Bull, King Haggard in his castle by the sea.

The opening lines of the novel:

The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone. She was very old, though she did not know it, and she was no longer the careless color of sea foam but rather the color of snow falling on a moonlit night. But her eyes were still clear and unwearied, and she still moved like a shadow on the sea.

This was truly my first introduction to a true fantasy novel.   Beagle writes so eloquently, and there’s so many quoteable lines.  A few of my favorites are below.

She said, “I will go no farther.”
“There is no choice. We can only go on.”

“Death takes what man would keep and leaves what man would lose.”
“”We are not always what we seem, and hardly ever what we dream.”

The unicorn said, “That is true. You are a man, and men can do nothing that makes any difference.”
But her voice was strangely low and burdened.

“If I danced with my feet
As I dance in my dreaming,
As graceful and gleaming
As Death in disguise —
Oh, that would be sweet,
But then would I hunger
To be ten years younger,
Or wedded, or wise?”

The film version is wonderful. With fantastic music by America (the soundtrack was long sought after by fans, andunicornstill had to be purchased from Germany), and an excellent cast, it’s such a great movie. It’s available on DVD and is really worth a watch.

The magic of the novel is preserved so well in the movie because Beagle also wrote the screenplay.   I can’t express my love for this book and its movie enough. It is a must-read, a must watch.  There’s also a sequel, Two Heart, a novelette, but I’ve not been able to read it yet.

Additional resources:

The Sweetness of Being Yourself – An homage to the book and movie.

Conlan Press – Distributor of The Last Unicorn and all of Peter Beagle’s works

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