This has to be one of the longest standing enchantments that befell me.
When I was still a kid, I saw watched the movie “The Last Unicorn.” Ever since then, I’ve always regarded it with awe. Then, a few years ago, I bought a DVD of the same movie and realized that it was actually a bittersweet movie, in spite of the beautiful graphics and the wonderful story. And yet I still would watch it a few more times until the CD got scratched too many and couldn’t be read any more.
Found a copy of the comics. And the art was just remarkable! It differed greatly from that movie but both have a beauty of their own. But it was in the comics that I learned that were details that were never included in the movie. In retrospect, it’s not really that surprising since it really happens a lot. That knowledge was like a window that opened a bit wider and I saw more in the world of “The Last Unicorn.” And I really that would be it and nothing more.
Kind of consoled myself with its movie soundtrack, which is practically an album by the band America. I’m not that big on folk rock but I have come to love most of the songs and the themes.
A few months back, during the 33rd Manila International Book Fair (MIBF), of all the books I would stumble upon, I saw it. I thought I was just hallucinating but I held it closer to my face—and it was real! It was The Last Unicorn in paperback.
Suddenly, I remembered that scene when Molly Grue first laid eyes on the unicorn and exclaimed “Where have you been?”
I have always been on the lookout for that particular book in garage sales or what vendors lay out on the streets. But I never had such luck. I forgot when I have up on finding the book. But surely I did. And when I had the book in my hands, it was almost unbelievable, so unbelievable I wouldn’t put down that copy lest someone else take it and bring it home. And though I purchased other books, The Last Unicorn topped the pile and the list. Always. It was even the first book I read after that haul.
Reading Beagle’s classic piece was like having the ceiling torn down, the roof blown apart, and seeing a whole new sky from the ground floor for the very first time. And with every finished page, the more I wanted to see. It was like trying to find the tallest tower then climbing it just to look at what was outside. And the view was not disappointing.
The cavalcade of curious pieces like the spider, cat, harpy, magician, minstrel, singing princess, villagers, men at arms, and the Red Bull was spectacular. The book revealed infinitely more than the movie or the comics ever did. (And I will leave it at that because I might just spoil it for others who have yet to read the book.)
Despite having a goal realized, there is a tinge of sadness when I finished the book. I guess that really happens when you read magical tales as a grownup. And yet their impression—no matter the toll of the years take on you—would remain somewhere inside you, waiting to be found and read again.