[[quoteright:237:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/TheLastUnicorn.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:237:Of all unicorns, she is the only one who knows what regret is -- [[CursedWithAwesome and love]].]]

->'''Molly''': ''Then what is magic for? What use is wizardry if it cannot save a unicorn?''\\
'''Schmendrick''': ''That's what heroes are for.''

An animated [[TheFilmOfTheBook Film Of The Book]], based on [[Literature/TheLastUnicorn the novel]] by Creator/PeterSBeagle, and animated by Creator/RankinBassProductions.

In a certain lilac wood, the leaves and snow never fall. This eternal springtime is watched over, and caused by, its magical resident--a unicorn. Having never left her forest, the unicorn is surprised to overhear two hunters speaking about the disappearance of the unicorns. In fact, they believe her to be the very last.

Unwilling to accept this, the unicorn leaves the safety of her forest and sets out to find others of her kind, following the information given to her by a philosophical butterfly. Along the way, she learns through bitter experience of human cruelty, ignorance and greed. She is mistaken for a horse (much to her displeasure), captured and placed in a circus sideshow, and pursued by a demonic being--the Red Bull, which, according to local legend, is responsible for the disappearance of the other unicorns. She also meets allies who join her in her journey; the incompetent but sweet-natured wizard Schmendrick and Molly Grue, a middle-aged bandit woman with a purer heart than most virgins.

Their quest takes them to the barren lands of the embittered King Haggard, master of the Red Bull, and his naive foster son Prince Lír. It is here that the unicorn, superior and aloof to all mortals, is [[HumanityEnsues transformed into a mere human]], taking the name "Lady Amalthea", forced to see and suffer human weakness and emotion firsthand.

One of the overriding themes is the power of memory. The King remembers feeling happy once and tries to recapture it by kidnapping unicorns, the skull remembers wine, Amalthea is in danger of forgetting herself, Molly Grue remembers her lost youth, and the unicorn will forever remember being in love.

The film's script was written by Peter S. Beagle himself. In July 2011, he finally got paid.
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!!This film provides examples of:

* AdaptationDistillation: The animated version is held in high regard as being faithful to the text, even though significant parts of the book, such as the poetry and songs, were left out.
* AnachronismStew: Intentionally, in the same vein as ''Literature/TheOnceAndFutureKing'', there are references to tacos, trains, magazines, [[Literature/ChildBallads Francis James Child's ballad collection]], etc. in a medieval-Renaissance-Arthurian-whatever age.
* {{Animesque}}: Although always intended for an English-speaking audience, the dirty work of animating the film adaptation was done by a Japanese studio called Creator/{{Topcraft}} (members of which became founders of Creator/StudioGhibli, incidentally). The anime influence on the movie is unmistakable.
* AntiMagic: One of the powers of the Unicorn, which is used several times during the story, in order to destroy magical locks, turn back an enchanted tree to normal, and prevent the use of magic against her.
* AntiVillain: King Haggard, when he explains ''why'' he [[spoiler:captured the unicorns. Not from greed, or power... but because they're the only thing that makes him ''happy'']].
* AnythingButThat: Captain Cully's men reaction to his telling his bard to sing a song about "Captain Cully and His Band of Free Men".
* ArcWords: "The Last."
* AttentionWhore: Captain Cully. He gets rather put out when "RobinHood" appears.
* AuthorAvatar: The butterfly's face was made to resemble Peter Beagle himself.
* BarbieDollAnatomy:
** Amalthea, although the GodivaHair might contribute a bit.
** [[FanDisservice Rather disgustingly averted]] with the harpy, whose three saggy breasts have rather visible nipples.
* BecomingTheMask: The danger of the unicorn's human guise.
* BerserkButton: For the unicorn, [[spoiler:the death of Prince Lír by the Red Bull]]. She also detests being mistaken for a horse.
* BetaCouple: Schmendrick and Molly. They don't get together until the very end, but unlike [[StarCrossedLovers Lir and Amalthea]] they get their HappilyEverAfter.
* BittersweetEnding: The unicorn saves her people, at the cost of the happy human life she could have known, as well as having to live an eternal, immortal life with the pain of regret.
* BornAsAnAdult: Amalthea.
* {{Bowdlerise}}: The 25th anniversary DVD edit out a few well-placed "damn"s, sometimes rather sloppily. Oddly, the bare-breasted Harpy is left completely alone.
* BrokenAngel: Played straight immediately after the transformation, then gradually deconstructed.
* ByTheEyesOfTheBlind:
-->'''Skull:''' Oh, no. No, you don't. Not ''that'' one. Unicorn! Unicorn! Haggard! Haggard! '''''UNICORN! UNICORN!''''' Haggard, where are you? There they go! Down to the Red Bull! The clock, Haggard! There they go! Unicorn! '''''UNICORN!'''''
* CatsAreMean: Well, not entirely, but the kitchen cat at Haggard's castle is a [[TheTrickster trickster]], and could give more help than he does.
-->'''Cat:''' No cat out of her first fur has ever given a straight answer to anyone. ''(removes the eye patch to wink at Molly with an '''undamaged, working eye'''.)''
* CelebrityEndorsement: Folk rock band America provides the soundtrack for the film.
* TheChewToy: Schmendrick, around other wizards. He eventually says he's tired of being laughed at.
* {{Cloudcuckoolander}}: The butterfly sings songs, recites poetry, quotes a warning from a matchbox at one point, and ''occasionally'' says something useful. It's at least implied, if not stated outright, that verbatim parroting what he's heard others say before is actually the only way ''any butterfly'' can talk at all. He seems to ''understand'' what the unicorn is after well enough, though.
* CounterpointDuet: "Now That I'm a Woman"/"That's All I've Got to Say"--Amalthea's mixed feelings about being human and Lír's song about failed attempts to court her. Becomes a love duet at the end.
* CreativeClosingCredits: The opening of the movie is drawn to resemble [[ShownTheirWork a series of medieval tapestries come to life]] (and a few images from the Book of Hours)--specifically, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hunt_of_the_Unicorn the Unicorn Tapestries]].
* CreepyCrows: Mommy Fortuna kept one as a pet. After her death, it followed the unicorn and Schmendrick to Haggard's castle.
* TheCuckoolanderWasRight: The butterfly has some good advice hidden in his string of nonsense songs.
* CursedWithAwesome: The unicorn becomes the only one of her kind to have known love, a terrible pain for a pure immortal creature. But also really useful since it [[spoiler: is her love for Prince Lir and anguish over his death]] that gives her the power and motivation to [[spoiler: best the Red Bull]].
* DaydreamBeliever: Molly and all of Captain Cully's crew believe there really is a RobinHood. Molly also believes there are unicorns. (She's right.)
* DeathSeeker: Mommy Fortuna knows full well that the harpy will soon escape and kill her. In fact, that's what she ''wants'' to happen; the harpy is immortal, and will ''never'' forget the woman who captured and held her. "So there's ''my'' immortality, eh?"
-->'''Unicorn:''' She chose her death long ago.
* DefrostingIceQueen: Lady Amalthea. She starts out as an EmotionlessGirl who only wants to find the other unicorns so she can return to her original form as soon as possible, but after she falls in love with Prince Lir she comes to gain emotions and starts to wish to stay human and live her mortal life with Lir, even begging Schmendrick to not turn her back.
* DemBones: The guardian of the passageway that leads to the Red Bull.
* DisneyDeath: [[spoiler:Prince Lir]] is killed by the Red Bull towards the end of the film, but the unicorn uses her magic to bring him back to life.
* DisneyVillainDeath: [[spoiler: King Haggard]]
* DoesNotLikeShoes: Molly Grue goes barefoot, possibly due to BarefootPoverty.
* DoggedNiceGuy: Lir. From the moment he meets Lady Amalthea, he falls madly in love with her and does everything he can to get her attention, even killing giants and dragons.
* DoorstopBaby: King Haggard reveals Prince Lir is not really his son, some peasant abandoned him at his doorstep when he was a baby. King Haggard adopted him to see if raising a child would bring him happiness, but it didn't.
* EmergencyTransformation: Schmendrick to the unicorn when she is in trouble. [[spoiler:He is eventually able to pull off an Emergency Re-Transformation.]]
* EmotionlessGirl: Lady Amalthea, initially.
* EmpathicEnvironment: According to Schmendrick, when Haggard built his castle, the verdant land became barren and hardscrabble. Indeed, when Haggard dies, the land seems to be healing (it doesn't hurt that it was trampled over by hundreds of life-giving unicorns.)
* FacialMarkings: The unicorn has a pink star-shaped mark where her horn is. She keeps it as Amalthea, but it vanishes as she becomes more human.
* FallingInLoveMontage: Amalthea and Lir in "That's All I've Got To Say".
* FamousLastWords:
** "The last! I '''knew''' you were the last!"
** Mommy Fortuna's "You couldn't have freed yourself alone! I held you!" Mommy Fortuna is clearly akin to those people who keep venomous snakes as pets.
* FeatheredFiend: The Harpy
* FisherKing: King Haggard's kingdom.
* FreezeFrameBonus: When the Unicorn glances back at her forest a final time before leaving, there are a couple of [[DumbDodoBird dodo birds]] among the animals watching her go.
* FunctionalMagic: Wild magic, exclusively. Mostly because Schmendrick sucks majorly at wizarding, though.
* GenericCuteness: Averted. Nobody looks good except Lír and Amalthea. Still, Molly looks a lot younger than she ought to.
* GenreDeconstruction: All of the characters [[FunctionalGenreSavvy know they're in a fairy tale]], and the fairy tale itself mocks, parodies, subverts and plays straight FairyTale tropes. One of the most moving scenes comes from this exchange:
-->'''Schmendrick:''' Then let the quest end here! I don't think I could change her back even if you wished it! Marry the prince and live happily ever after.\\
'''Amalthea:''' Yes! That is my wish!\\
'''Lír:''' No. Lady, I am a hero, and heroes know that things must happen when it is time for them to happen. A quest may not simply be abandoned. Unicorns may go unrescued for a long time, but not forever. The happy ending cannot come in the middle of the story.\\
'''Molly Grue:''' ''(quietly to Schmendrick)'' But what if there isn't a happy ending at all?\\
'''Schmendrick:''' ''(quietly)'' There are no happy endings, because nothing ends.
* GenreSavvy: Several characters, particularly Lír, who makes a much-quoted speech about the proper order of things during the climax of the story.
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar:
** There's a female tree with breasts that gives Schmendrick MarshmallowHell.
** Also for a more scary example, the Harpy has more exposed and human like breasts.
** Molly Grue's "Where have you ''been''?" speech to the Unicorn will sail right over the heads of youngsters, but adults, especially those who know a thing or two about [[VirginPower the lore of unicorns]], will get what she is saying. Especially the line "How '''dare''' you come to me now, when I am ''this''?"
* GlowingEyelightsOfUndeath: The skull, during the "HAGGARD! HAGGARD!! '''UNICORN!'''" tirade.
* GoodIsNotNice: Unicorns may be {{incorruptible|PurePureness}}, but they're also ''wild.''
* GossipEvolution: When the unicorn asks Schmendrick to tell what he knows of Haggard and the Red Bull, he reveals just how garbled accounts have become--"some say the bull is real, the bull is a ghost, the bull protects Haggard or else it keeps him a prisoner in his own castle..."
* HarpingOnAboutHarpies: Celaeno the harpy, part of Mommy Fortuna's traveling circus.
* HairTriggerTemper: Mabruk, King Haggard, Mommy Fortuna, and Rukh are all extremely quick to take offense, and enjoy bullying and intimidating others.
* HannibalLecture. King Haggard.
-->'''Haggard:''' I ''know'' you! I almost knew you as soon as I saw you on the road coming to my door. Since then, there is no movement of yours that has not betrayed you! A pace, a glance, a turn of the head, the flash of your throat as you breathe... even your way of standing perfectly still--they were all my spies!
* {{Herald}}
* HeroicSacrifice: [[spoiler:That would be Lír.]] [[BackFromTheDead He gets better.]]
* TheHerosJourney
* HumanityEnsues: The unicorn is transformed by Schmendrick into a human woman, against her will.
* HumanityIsInfectious: Amalthea eventually gains enough to the point where she "dies" when Schmendrick changes her back into a unicorn.
* IAmBecomingSong: [[TheMindIsAPlaythingOfTheBody 'Now That I'm]] [[HumanityEnsues a Woman.']]
* IJustWantToBeNormal: Amalthea begs Schmendrick not to change her back into a unicorn.
* IncorruptiblePurePureness: Unicorns, Molly, and Lír.
* InvisibleToNormals: Unicorns just look like white horses to people who don't believe in them.
* {{Irony}}:
** Mommy Fortuna has a carnival of supposed magical creatures that are really ordinary animals bewitched with illusions (for example an old lion appears as a Manticore to the people). When Mommy Fortuna catches a real mythical creature (the Unicorn) humans can't see the horn so she must put a fake one on her to make them believe she's a real unicorn.
** Also Mommy Fortuna's powers are only to imprison the creatures and create illusions. The line is "she can't turn cream into butter". Her servant Schmendrick is the one who turns out to be able to transform creatures into other forms.
* ItMustBeMine: Haggard and "his" unicorns.
-->'''Haggard:''' There. There they are. There they are! They are MINE! They belong to ME! The Red Bull gathered them one-by-one, and I bade him drive each one into the sea! ...I like to watch them. They fill me with joy. The first time I felt it, I thought I was going to ''die''. I said to the Red Bull, "I must have them! I must have ''all'' of them, ''all there are''! For nothing makes me happy... but their shining, and their grace." So the Red Bull caught them. Each time I see the unicorns--MY unicorns--it is like that morning in the woods, and I am truly ''young'', in spite of myself!
* ItsAllAboutMe: Haggard's biggest vice--and danger--is his selfishness and obsessiveness.
* JumpedAtTheCall: Both Schmendrick and Molly are willing to travel with the unicorn within hours of meeting her.
* JustLikeRobinHood: Captain Cully and his outlaw gang certainly aspire to be, but instead are quite the opposite. They rob the poor because they can't fight back, and pay off the rich to turn a blind eye.
* KarmicDeath: Mommy Fortuna and [[spoiler:King Haggard]].
* KnightInShiningArmor: Lír.
* LastOfHerKind: [[spoiler:But not exactly. It turns out that there ''are'' more unicorns--but they have all been imprisoned in the sea by King Haggard, with the help of the Red Bull.]]
* TheLastTitle: The title.
* LossOfIdentity: After being transformed into a human, the unicorn gradually forgets who she was, to the point she doesn't know anymore who (and what) she is.
* LoveAtFirstSight: Prince Lir falls in love with Lady Amalthea the moment he meets her.
* MagicEnhancement: The unicorn buffs Schmendrick's magic when he casts an illusion of Robin Hood.
* TheMagicGoesAway: The longer Amalthea remains human.
-->'''Haggard:''' ''(to Amalthea)'' But your ''eyes''. You eyes have become blank, as Lir's. As any eyes... ''that never saw unicorns.''
* MagikarpPower: Schmendrick's magic. Similarly, see also CrouchingMoronHiddenBadass.
* MarshmallowHell: When Schmendrick accidentally converts the tree he's tied to into a living entity, he finds himself in [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCvEL41kIQg this.]]
-->'''Schmendrick''': Oh God. I'm engaged to a Douglas Fir. ''''HELP!!! UNICORN, WHERE ARE YOU?!''''\\
'''Unicorn''': ...\\
'''Tree''': Oh! Galls and fireblight! She shall not have you, that hussy! We will perish together!
* MayflyDecemberRomance: Prince Lír and the unicorn as Lady Amalthea. They could live a mortal life together as humans, but that becomes impossible when she turns back into an unicorn, making her both immortal and unable to love him.
* MeaningfulName:
** The unicorn's alias, "Amalthea," is a reference to the nanny goat who nursed Zeus. The original Amalthea had lost a horn, which became the Cornucopia, effectively making her a unicorn.
** "Haggard" pretty much speaks for itself.
** "Schmendrick" is a Yiddish word meaning someone who is foolish, clueless, or hopelessly out of his depth: a boy sent to do a man's job.
** The Harpy is named "Celaeno," after one of the three classic harpies, because she is the dark and twisted yang to the Unicorn's light and pure yin.
* MediumAwareness: Far less so than in the book, but the characters hint they know they're in a fairy tale.
* TheMindIsAPlaythingOfTheBody: The unicorn's frightening personality change following her transformation.
* MotiveRant: King Haggard has one when he wistfully tells Lady Amalthea why he holds all the unicorns prisoner in the sea.
* {{Multiboobage}}: The Harpy has not two, but three breasts.
* MysticalHighCollar: Schmendrick wears a flared collar with his robes.
* MysticalWhiteHair: Amalthea, the unicorn's human form has long white hair.
* NakedOnArrival: Due to an aversion of MagicPants, the unicorn's human form is naked after she is transformed. Copious amounts of GodivaHair were used, naturally.
* NoNameGiven: The unicorn. "Amalthea" is just an alias used when in human form.
* NotSoDifferent: Mommy Fortuna and Haggard, it turns out.
* ObfuscatingStupidity: When asked, Schmendrick says he only sees a white mare when seeing the unicorn. By his startled look and stammering, it's obvious he knows exactly what she is.
* OlderThanTheyLook: WordOfGod says Schmendrick is anywhere between his early 40's to his ''60's''.
* OurDemonsAreDifferent: The Red Bull is a fiery red bull with fangs and glowing eyes.
* ThePowerOfLove: Turns Lír from a lazy coward into a GenreSavvy hero, and allows the Unicorn to face her greatest fear.
* PrinceCharming: Prince Lir.
* PrincessClassic: Amalthea, especially as her humanity becomes more evident, acts like this, and nearly became an actual princess.
* ProphecyTwist: The mysterious riddle the cat gives Molly to unravel the way to the Red Bull's lair turns out to be rather literal, and mostly irrelevant: Schmendrick just drinks the water while pretending to turn it into wine and, as the skull itself says, the clock is "just numbers and gears, pay it no mind"; all that really matters is using the "wine" to get the skull to tell them of the passage behind the clock.
* PunnyName: As well as being a Yiddish word (see above), "Schmendrick the Magician" is also a pun on "MandrakeTheMagician."
* QuestForTheRest
* RapunzelHair: Lady Amalthea.
* ReducedToRatburgers: The bandits complain that Molly keeps serving them rat soup.
-->"At least she could use a different rat! The third night, anyway!"
* RedEyesTakeWarning: The Skull displays such eyes when he recognizes the eponymous character for what she truly is. See also GlowingEyelightsOfUndeath.
* RelativelyFlimsyExcuse: Schmendrick says that "Lady Amalthea" is his niece when he meets King Haggard.
* RidiculouslyCuteCritter: The unicorn herself and all her forest companions.
* RobinHood: Summoned by Schmendrick's magic to show his power to Captain Cully, a "real life" RobinHood in the story.
* RunOrDie: Subverted. Running from the harpy would have ''gotten'' them killed.
* ScrewDestiny: Just before the final encounter with the Red Bull, Lady Amalthea [[spoiler:wants to back out, marry Lír, and live happily ever after--Lír is the one who insists that the story can't end that way]].
* SexualKarma: The talking tree and [[MarshmallowHell her "attributes"]].
* ShoutOut: When Rukh shows up in the middle of Schmendrick releasing the unicorn, he reveals what riddle Schmendrick told him to stump him: [[Literature/AlicesAdventuresInWonderland "Why is a raven like a writing desk?"]]
* SmallNameBigEgo: Captain Cully. No, really - the man is a medieval Ted Baxter.
* SpeaksInShoutOuts: The Butterfly speaks only in poetry and song.
* StarCrossedLovers: Amalthea and Lir. She eventually reciprocates his feelings, but since she's an unicorn, she can't stay with him or even love him anymore after returning to her true form. She can only live with the regret of not staying with him forever.
* StatusBuff: Done in one instance by the unicorn to Schmendrick, when he successfully summons an illusion of RobinHood and his allies.
* StockSoundEffects: The dragon Lír slays has Godzilla's roar.
* SweetieGraffiti: When it opens up to Captain Cully's campfire, you can see a tree with the words CC + MG carved inside a heart.
* TalkLikeAPirate: The cat, who also sports an eyepatch and pegleg (the former apparently a complete affectation, since at one point he switches which eye it covers to reveal a perfectly normal eye had been behind it).
* ThereIsAnother: [[spoiler:Schmendrick and Lady Amalthea discover that there are other unicorns, but they are all captives of King Haggard. The story then becomes about trying to rescue them.]]
* ThroughAFaceFullOfFur: The Skull turns rosy-cheeked as it empties a bottle of "wine."
* TookALevelInBadass:
** Schmendrick, who goes from being a mere medium of magic to being able to command it at will.
** Lír starts off as a lazy schmuck, but eventually [[spoiler:fights the Red Bull, [[HeroicSacrifice lays down his life to save the unicorn,]] and becomes King.]]
* UnderstandingBoyfriend: Learning that Lady Amalthea is actually an unicorn in human form doesn't affect Prince Lir's feelings for her at all.
-->'''Prince Lir:''' Unicorn, mermaid, sorceress... no name you could give her would surprise OR frighten me. I love whom I love.
* UngratefulBitch: The harpy, who immediately attacks the unicorn three times after she sets her free before turning her wrath on Mommy Fortuna and her assistant.
* {{Unicorn}}: One of the most famous.
* UniquenessValue: The Last Unicorn is so very, very precious to all involved because she is the last of her kind. [[spoiler:After freeing all the other unicorns she remains unique because she's the only one to have ever experienced (and will remember) human emotion.]]
* UnusualEuphemism:
-->'''Molly Grue:''' Slit his wizard!
** The book explains that she meant either "gizzard" or "weasand" (an archaic term for the throat), and amalgamated the two.
* UnusuallyUninterestingSight: Of course, in a world with dragons and harpies, Molly isn't shocked the cat can talk, just that it didn't speak up sooner.
-->'''Molly:''' Oh! You ''can'' talk!
* WeirdnessMagnet: Unicorn gives Schemendrick advice on how ''not'' to be one.
-->'''Unicorn:''' ''(firmly)'' Don't look back. Don't run. Never run from anything immortal - it attracts their attention.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: Four men-at-arms are mentioned (very minor characters in the book), but they never make an appearance.
* WhatIsThisThingYouCallLove: Unicorns don't have or understand human emotions, so Amalthea doesn't know what love is at first. She eventually gets to know it thanks to Lir and by the end she's the only unicorn to know what love is.
* WildMagic: Every time Schmendrick tries to do magic, he can barely control it. The only spell he can cast without it backfiring on him for most of the film is "Magic, do what you will."
* WildWilderness
* WhoWantsToLiveForever:
** A major theme in the story is that immortal beings cannot appreciate mortality.
** Mommy Fortuna had a twisted view of immortality in regards to the Harpy:
--->'''Fortuna:''' Oh, she'll kill me one day or another. But she will remember forever that I caught her; that I held her prisoner. So there's ''my'' immortality, eh?
** Also Schmendrick comments at the end that Lir will achieve immortality through the unicorn's memory of loving him.
* TheWisePrince: Lír grows into this.
* WorldsMostBeautifulWoman: Not explicitly stated, but when the most beautiful creature in the world [[HumanityEnsues becomes human]], this seems to be the result. It's worth noting however, that as [[TheMindIsAPlaythingOfTheBody she becomes more human]] she stays beautiful, but the mystical quality of her beauty fades away.
* YouCanSeeMe: Most ordinary people mistake the unicorn for a white horse, and Mommy Fortuna has to put a fake horn on the unicorn to exhibit her to the public. Mommy Fortuna, Schmendrick[[note]]who lies to Mommy and tells her he only sees a white mare[[/note]], Molly, and (terrifyingly) the Red Bull all know the unicorn when they encounter her. The cat is also able to see her, because "No cat out of its first fur can ever be deceived by appearances. Unlike humans, who seem to enjoy it." Haggard isn't sure at first, but he's spent enough time staring at unicorns that he quickly begins to suspect who Amalthea really is.
* YouCanTalk: Molly is only mildly surprised when the cat speaks, in more of a "why are you speaking ''now''" rather than "Oh my God! A talking cat!" This is probably due to the general MediumAwareness in the film.
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