Peter Beagle’s science fiction novel The Last Unicorn gained the public’s attention for its imagination and beauty. Later it became a motion picture starring Jeff Bridges (Hulk and K-Pax) and Angela Lansbury ("Murder She Wrote"). The plotline is as simple as it is complex. The last unicorn in the entire world has spent a lifetime searching for others like her and has been left seemingly forlorn only to feel an immortal sadness at the absence of her kind. Amidst the search for unicorns she meets a bumbling magician whose name has been repeated as an insult for decades, Schmendrick. Schmendrick the magician wields the potential for unlimited power, yet his lack of self-confidence prohibits its demonstration and ultimately clouds both his judgment and level of courage when he and his friends are in danger. The last unicorn meanwhile is pure magic; she is beautiful, mystical, exotic and brilliant. Her kindness and goodwill slowly inspires the best in our stumbling magician.
Meanwhile, her arch nemesis the Red Bull senses her presence. This may spell doom for our mythical heroine. In her search for the other unicorns she finds many obstacles including a hideous and maligned sorceress who attempts to captivate her as part of her circus for eternity. Eventually she finds out the terrible truth about her unicorns, but only after she is forced to lose her memory and to metamorphose into a beautiful princess. The beautiful prince falls in love with her, only his father’s hatred for what the unicorns represent cause him to summon the red bull to drive them into the sea and to stamp out their very existence. This film is as beautiful as it is didactic for children. There are so many cartoons about pure violence and exhibiting impossible special effects. This cartoon movie is instead more about life, morality, courage, and has brilliant voice-overs and a marvelous and unforgettable storyline. Watch this movie with your children and let them love it too. The Secret of N.I.M.H. is arguably much more famous. The graphics are superb, the storyline is second to none and it is a sweet love story of about the struggle of a family and about new romance. Robert C. O’Brien wrote Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. The central character is Mrs. Jonathan Frisby, a widower and overall knockout. As usual, during the fall season she and the rats that were medically enhanced in a laboratory and thereby had the intelligence to escape to live in secrecy on Farmer Fitzgibbon’s farm, find out the plow would be coming early during the season. The rats live inside of the rooted area of a tree near the farmer’s house while Mrs. Frisby and her children (Shannon Dougherty plays a nice role here), live in the open fields vulnerable to the plow and its jagged metal fangs. Mrs. Frisby’s husband Jonathan is the one who engineered the escape of the rats and therefore despite his untimely death always would be remembered as their savior. The elderly leader of the rats, Nicodemus, pledged his loyalty and the help of the entire colony to move her home. This is where the epic struggle between good and evil come into play.
Jenner, the enemy of the elderly and conservative Nicodemus, along with his ally Brutus, decide to kill the old rat and to viciously assume command of the order. Justin, the successor to Nicodemus listens to Mrs. Frisby and believes the plow would be coming early and that the farmer has hired exterminators. This causes a panic among the rats, leaving a power vacuum which Jenner fully intends to fill by eradicating the kind and heroic Justin. Meanwhile, Jenner uses the opportunity of moving the Frisby house to safety as moment to kill Nicodemus and to cause havoc.
This opens another gateway and adds a magical element into the storyline. The ruby jewel, the heart of courage becomes the object of everyone’s desire. Mrs. Frisby and Nicodemus understand its purpose to save her home and children while Jenner sees an opportunity to usurp power and to conquer the order. An epic battle ensues, and near tragedy strikes.
The other, and arguably most tangential part of this brilliant story is the cuckoo bird, follower and devoted friend of Mrs. Frisby. He is clumsy, silly, and always late. Eventually after unsuccessfully courting Mrs. Frisby he finds his soul mate, a female cuckoo bird who is commensurately as clumsy, silly, and at a loss for words. Their giggles say it all.
Both of these films are moral tales, and suitable for young children. Each contains something memorable and is a vital part of any early childhood film collection. Watch and reminisce.
Copyright © 2010 Screen Media, Inc. All rights reserved.
Certain product data © 2010-present Screen Media, Inc. For personal use only. All rights reserved.