Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Last Unicorn

Recently I mentioned that I had intended to explore some topics on this blog. These are things that have influenced my life in the same way as Persephone, and perhaps they have influenced my life because of Persephone.  I want to start with The Last Unicorn.

If you have neither read the book nor watched the movie, go ahead and do that now.  I'll wait.

Okay, are you ready?

I saw that movie when I was 7 years old when it came out in the theaters. I distinctly remember being so enamored with the visuals and the story that I sat at the the edge of my seat the whole time. Of course, I was 7 so that might have been because my feet didn't touch the ground otherwise. My father had taken myself and my brother to see it, if I recall correctly.  I loved it so much I demanded that we read the book.  So the next time we were at the public library and picked up a copy of The Fantasy Worlds of Peter S. Beagle, containing the Last Unicorn. We read the book together, but I'm not sure I fully groked it at the time.

Many years later, I rediscovered the movie. Some television network or another would play it at least once a year and I made an effort to watch it every time.  I also eventually got another paper back version of the book and read it cover to cover. This love lasted through college. My college friends understood that I was obsessed with the book. It has actually lasted through present. 

Ultimately, it is a tale of a journey of self-discovery. And you know what? It isn't unlike the story of Persephone. It isn't exactly like it, either, but not unlike it. I related to every character in the story. I felt Molly Grue's gut wrenching pain when she confronted the Unicorn. I felt Schmendrick's inadequacies when he couldn't free the unicorn (and the terror when the Harpy was freed).  I felt the sadness in the voice of The Unicorn when she returned to say goodbye.   This story has moved me more than just about any other.

"I have been mortal, and some part of me is mortal yet. I am full of tears and hunger and the fear of death, although I cannot weep, and I want nothing, and I cannot die. I am not like the others now, for no unicorn was ever born who could regret, but I do. I regret..unicorns are in the world again. No sorrow will live in me with that joy-save one. And I thank you for that part, too. Farewell good magician.I will try to go home now."

A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Peter S. Beagle at Dragon*Con here in Atlanta.
I was dressed at a butterfly, and for some reason that seems terribly appropriate. I was able to have Mr. Beagle sign my battered copy of The Fantasy Worlds of Peter S. Beagle that I had picked up at a used bookstore several years before. At Dragon*Con, I was also able to see a viewing of the movie where Peter Beagle provided commentary. It was a once in a lifetime experience.

This is a story that has really affected my life. Influenced the way I think.  Without it, I don't know that I would fully understand what it means to be a seeker. What it means to treat this life as a journey. Ultimately we are all on our paths of self-discovery, it is just some of us are more aware of it than others. The Unicorn brought me to another journey; the journey of Persephone. And for that I am grateful.

1 comment:

  1. You should check out the comic book adaptation (co-written by Beagle himself) that IDW published last year; it's now out in a single volume, I believe. Just gorgeous!