Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Last Unicorn: the lost version

by Peter S. Beagle

I've never read the book, but I have very fond memories of the animated movie The Last Unicorn. I saw it at an age when I loved — and I mean LOVED — unicorns. I was also starting to get an inkling that boys aren't supposed to like unicorns, a feeling exacerbated by the obvious femininity of this particular unicorn, but that extra frisson of guilt and shame only made me love the movie all the more.

So, imagine the jolt of electricity that shot up my spine when I saw this book, with the unicorn on the cover all black and gothic and macho looking! This "lost version" is just a fragment, a false start when the author originated the idea, and it's very different to the way the story ultimately turned out. There's a much clearer unicorn/nature vs. man/modernity dichotomy, which I don't remember from the movie, which seemed from the humans' clothing to be sort of medieval. It's good, and I enjoyed reading it, but I also see what the author means in the afterword when he says this version probably wouldn't have worked out in the long run. It's still worth reading, though, especially if you are or were into unicorns, or if you're a big fantasy geek.

Also, BTW, the unicorn is still a girl. I've recently assuaged my disappointment by purchasing a copy of Machoponi: A Prance with Death. I'll let you know how that works out....

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