Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile My Website Previous Previous Next Next
The Last Unicorn - Which is not unduly obvious, as I am about to explain
The Last Unicorn

It started back at ConFurence 4 or 5. I didn't know too many people, so I was hanging around the panel discussions a lot. I noticed the video room was going to be playing the 1982 animated movie version of Peter S. Beagle's book The Last Unicorn, and since I'd only seen bits and pieces of it on tv, I decided hey, why not - I could watch the whole thing.

The room was fairly large, but amazingly crowded. It was hot and there was a light con funk in the air. People were sitting on the floor and standing up at the back of the room. You could hardly walk without bumping into someone. I was incredibly lucky that I got one of the last chairs. I was very tired and was glad to sit down - I was fighting off a sinus cold at the time. The film was just fine. I enjoyed it a lot, despite it being one of those animated films where people break into song occasionally. The music was partially composed by America, and I liked their intertwining guitar melodies.

Then, about two-thirds of the way through, Mia Farrow began to sing. Oh my god. I had never been made so uncomfortable by sound in my life. She couldn't sing. She couldn't hold a note steadily. She wasn't on pitch. Her voice sounded scratchy on the higher registers. Not until I saw Armageddon have I ever wanted to run screaming from a movie. (With the exception of Moses Znaimer's tv special The television revolution which made me want to destroy my TV set.) But if I left screaming, I would lose my wonderful, wonderful chair. What was I to do? I gritted my teeth, covered my ears, and writhed. Two minutes of writhing. Then it was over.

Ever since then, I've wanted to be able to enjoy the film without those two minutes of pain. Someone sent me a tape cassette of the soundtrack songs, which pleasantly used a professional vocalist. I thought hey, wouldn't it be great if I could get a DVD of the movie, and the soundtrack on CD, and a DVD burner in my computer, and make a "corrected" version of the film, fixing those two minutes with the better singer?

I got the DVD first, in 2003. I got the soundtrack CD in Germany in 2004. Don't ask me way, but up until now it's only been available in Germany (Das letzte Einhorn). The DVD burner came soon afterwards, and by staying up all last night, I finally have what I want.


Although the story, music and production was being handled by Rankin-Bass in the United States, the animation was Japanese anime, by a small group called Topcraft. They also did work on the animated version of The Hobbit and Nausicaa. Later, when they went out of business, Hayao Miyazaki picked up a lot of its people to form the new Studio Ghibli.

According to Unknown Movies, the production people became aware that Mia Farrow couldn't sing. She had one song on her own, and a duet. They got a professional singer to take over her part in the duet (thank goodness), and simply cut out the part where she was singing on her own (originally opting to have her sing over the images, and not synch with the animation). Unfortunately, ITC wanted to make the movie as long as possible, so they restored every scene that had been cut out. That's why it's in there.

A cover of the movie's theme song hit the top of the charts in Germany in 1999.

There's a live-action movie version being planned, although it's still in an early stage of development and may or may not come to fruition. Peter S. Beagle even had an RTF file of the whole screenplay online a couple of years ago!

The CD soundtrack version of the song I wanted to replace has the exact same tempo and key as what's in the movie. I didn't have to warp the timing and pitch at all... I just had to figure out where to splice and fade it in and out.

The animated film has a rather disturbing sequence that I never knew existed until I bought the DVD, because (understandably) tv stations cut it out. Schmendrick the magician gets tied to a tree, and when he tries casting a spell to escape, the tree transforms into a hideous, pink, gigantic-breasted... tree... woman... thing... who gyrates his face in her cleavage. Thank ghod that when I burned my altered DVD copy, I was able to set up a chapter point so I can conveniently skip over that!

And so onto my next DVD burning projects. Made more difficult because the free demo period of my DVD authoring software expires in four days. But first - sleep. :)

Current Mood: accomplished

2 comments or Leave a comment
From: supersocks Date: January 2nd, 2005 06:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
You use your skills for good! That's one of my favourite movies, but yeah, that song. Oy.
niall_ From: niall_ Date: January 4th, 2005 04:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
I actually can withstand Mia Farrow singing. (Does that mean I win? :) I liked that they didn't use a pro, that it was the human Amalthea singing, warts and all - I mean, Prince Lear wasn't a virtuoso himself. And I definitely remember the tree sequence, which still amuses me greatly. I didn't find it perverted, even as a child, because it's too cartoony. Not without menace, though, and it could have been closer to the book... "Nothing outlasts the love of a tree" is an interesting line.

I so hope the live-action movie gets through, if they get it right. And today, they could. I mean, back then Christopher Lee sounded like King Haggard - now he looks like him too! :)
2 comments or Leave a comment