I remember The Last Unicorn being difficult to find back in the mid-90s when I worked in a video store. Customers would come in and ask for the title and I’d have to explain the title needed to be special ordered and that the manufacturer only produced the title in batches. So the order could take anywhere from weeks to six months. It would eventually be filled, but the wait could be interminable. Today I received my copy of The Last Unicorn (The Enchanted Edition) on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory and it’s glorious. The disc follows on the heels of a nation-wide TLU tour which went from theater to theater criss-crossing America with author Peter S. Beagle and his entourage in tow for each showing.
As far as I can tell nothing is missing from the new print. The print matches up with my memories from childhood and from my previous viewings on VHS and DVD. The infamous “damn” seems to be intact as well. And though it seemed a bit muffled, my memory of the utterance may not be 100% correct. Peter’s manager Connor Cochran indicates on the Shout! Factory forums and on the audio commentary that the film is complete. I’ll trust he is correct.
The audio on the disc is mostly lovely and seems cleaned up as well in comparison to my 2007 25th Anniversary release from Lionsgate. Dialog is crisp and clear. I made out a few words I hadn’t been able to previously. The only issue I had with the audio, and it’s an issue that seemed glaring on first watch, is the mixing in of the songs by America are extremely loud in comparison to the rest of the film. In particular the track ‘In The Sea’ is so blaring when it first comes on it snatches you out of the film and throttles you. I checked it versus the previous DVD release I own and the issue was not found on the old master. ‘In The Sea’ is by far the worst of the two songs I noted the mixing being off and the song integrates better as it goes on, but it’s an issue nonetheless.
Extras here are indeed worthwhile. For once the disc’s makers aimed the extra at the disc-buying audience and not the 5 year olds they presume the disc is being purchased for. This is a big issue for me, particularly with the films of Hayao Miyazaki as released in the USA by Disney. All the extras on those discs are generally unwatchable tripe, consisting of the U.S. voice actors doing their thing and some silly games. Even the Lionsgate DVD release succumbed to this problem (among others).
This release includes:
Audio Commentary with Peter S. Beagle, Connor Cochran, Michael
True Magic: The Story of The Last Unicorn
Highlights from The Last Unicorn Worldwide Screening Tour with Peter S. Beagle
Original Theatrical Trailer
The audio commentary is somewhat insightful on the behind the scenes aspects of screenplay writing, voice casting and the film’s history before it began production and after it was released. It’s nice to listen to the stories the guests tell about the process. What’s missing was a voice actor or two and an animator or two. The entire process of the actual film creation is missing. Jules Bass would have been a great addition to the commentary. Most of the voice cast is still working today and would have been wonderful to hear from, considering how much the crew says they all loved working on the project.
The True Magic piece is a 45 minute piece which delves deeper into the history of the film that’s mentioned in the audio commentary. A lot of information is duplicated here unfortunately as the same people on this piece were on the commentary. That said, it’s a good piece, but still missing elements of the actual creation and animating process of the movie itself.
Highlights from the tour is a nice piece showing different cities the tour hit, the people who attended the screenings and some of the Q&A Peter answered. I saw the tour mentioned on my Facebook at the time as I follow Peter’s page, but was unable to make it due to work commitments. I really wish I had been able to go. It looks like it would have been a great time.
None of the extras from the Lionsgate release are carried over except for the trailer, but none of them were particularly memorable or worth keeping the old disc laying around for. This release includes a DVD bonus disc of the film.
It’s absolutely wonderful seeing The Last Unicorn getting its due on Blu-ray and it’s great knowing so many people know and love the film. Here I thought I was alone. While it’s pretty rare that a film truly encompasses the magic and wonder of its written kin,The Last Unicorn is one of those gems that manages just that. A large part of that being that the screenplay was written by Peter himself and the production handled by pros like Rankin and Bass. While Peter is on record as saying he’s not a fan of any of their work, I grew up on Rudolph, Frosty, the Hobbit, Flight of Dragons and this film. It’s truly a masterpiece among their other great works and it has finally received the release it deserves!