This film is about a dark lord who wants to destroy all that is good in the world and take over it, so sends his minions to kill the only thing that could stand in his way, the personification of light and purity, which happens to be unicorns. At the same time, a princess named Lily and a feral child named Jack meet up in the forest. They’re in love and Jack decides to show Lily the unicorns as a present of sorts, and the dark lord’s minions follow them in the shadows. When they meet the unicorns the goblins shoot a dart into one of the unicorns, scaring them away, and then steals the male’s horn. The female unicorn and princess Lily are also eventually captured and taken to the dark lord’s lair, and at this point it is up to Jack and the forest faeries to save the unicorns and the princess.
I only heard about this movie a couple of months ago and after I watched it, I wondered why. It’s on the same level as The Princess Bride and The Neverending Story, but I suppose it wasn’t a book first. I was kind of skeptical when I first picked it up because Tom cruise is Jack. He was never one of my favourite actors, and he I wouldn’t peg him as being able to pull off a fantasy film… but he’s actually pretty good. Also, Tim Curry is the Dark Lord. Enough said.
I suppose the thing that would turn most people off about the movie would be the fact that there are unicorns in the movie, and I guess I can understand why that may put some people off. It’s very rare that you’ll find a serious, adult movie with a unicorn in it. Unicorns are almost synonymous with little girls and tea parties, and any attempts at showing their heroism or prowess are often side-lined, if at all existent, at least in pop culture. I promise you though, you will not think that this is a movie for children and may even find that you have a soft spot for our horned friends, not that they have a lot of screen time. In addition to a non-childish representation of unicorns, I also enjoyed the other faeries in the movie. As is so often stressed in faerie lore, the use of riddles and a battle of wits saves Jack many a time when he’s dealing with these inhuman friends and foes. I think you have to watch the Director’s cut (or the Goldman version) though, because the other version cuts out some of that banter. Here is one of the parts where Jack faces Meg Mucklebones
One of the things I didn’t like so much was how the fall of the unicorn was sort of blamed on Lily. She went to go touch the unicorn despite Jack telling her not to, and when she touched it the goblin shot his dart. After that she was more or less blamed for goblins taking the horn. This doesn’t really sit well with me. I don’t know a lot of unicorn lore, but I know that girls are supposedly the only humans unicorns can really stand, so why would a girl touching a unicorn be a bad thing? It wasn’t her touch that cursed humanity, it was the goblins. Unless she was somehow meant to personify the dark lord and his evil, but that might be getting a little too biblical in its blame.
Something interesting about this movie is that, according to my Legend of Zelda friend, this film is the basis for the video game ‘The Legend of Zelda’. Wikipedia says that the inspiration for the game came from the creator’s “explorations as a young boy in the hillsides surrounding his childhood home in Sonobe, Japan where he ventured into forests with secluded lakes, caves, and rural villages.” I don’t know whether or not Wikipedia is right (you never do) but I do know for a fact that this exact explanation is how Miyamoto (the creator) came up with the idea for Super Mario Bros. … so maybe they’re just copy and pasting. Plus, Zelda was released in 1986 while Legend came out in ’85. You do the math. Knowing this you’ll be able to pick out the similarities very easily, if you know anything about Zelda that is.
Here’s the trailer