Last year at Comikaze, Ian and I saw the lovely old animated feature: “The Last Unicorn.” If you weren’t there and love fanciful tales that aren’t Disney-pretty or perfect, then go see this gentle tale as it sweeps through Southern California this weekend. The animation has a different charm than the Disney features and is representative of early Japanese animation.

Last night, the animated featured had a red carpet at the Newport Beach Film Festival.  The day before it had a sold-out show at USC.  The schedule is as follows:

“The Last Unicorn” novel was first published in 1968. It became a 1982 animated feature produced by Rankin/Bass for the now-defunct British company ITC Entertainment (1958-1998).  The animation was done by the Japanese anime studio Topcraft (トップクラフト). Topcraft also produced “Thundercats” and the 1977 “The Hobbit” with Rankin/Bass and “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.” Established in 1972, the company went bankrupt in 1985 and was bought by Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. Topcraft became Studio Ghibli, keeping some of the original animators.

Beagle wrote the screenplay. The movie was directed by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin, jr. and the cast features the voices of Alan Arkin as Schmendrick the magician, Jeff Bridges as the Prince Lir,  Mia Farrow as the titular unicorn,  Tammy Grimes as Molly Grue, Keenan Wynn as a harpy, René Auberjonois as the skull who guards the clock, Robert Klein as the butterfly, Angela Lansbury as the witch Mommy Fortuna, and Christopher Lee as King Haggard.

At each screening, you’ll get to meet the author of the original story, Peter S. Beagle and have a Q & A.  After the screening, if you go up to the author’s signing table, you can ask for a special prize by telling them you heard about them from me, Jana J. Monji or Examiner.com. You’ll get a free 35 mm film frame from an actual 1982 theatrical print of “The Last Unicorn.”

If you’re not in Southern California, you can visit the official national tour website. Below are the currently confirmed screenings.

SEPTEMBER SHOWS: EAST COAST FROM VIRGINIA TO NEW YORK

  • September 20th, times TBD: Alamo Drafthouse Winchester – Winchester, VA
  • September 21st, times TBD: Alamo Drafthouse One Loudoun – Ashburn, VA
  • September 22nd, 2 PM: Reading Cinemas Angelika Mosaic – Fairfax, VA
  • September 26th, 7 PM: Reading Cinemas Village East – Manhattan, NY
  • September 28th, 2 PM: Reading Cinemas Cinemas 123 – Manhattan, NY
  • (more September East Coast locations and times will be announced soon)

OCTOBER SHOWS: MISSOURI, ILLINOIS, WISCONSIN, & MINNESOTA

  • October 24th, 7 PM: The Avon – Decatur, IL
  • (more October Midwest locations and times will be announced soon)

NOVEMBER SHOWS: OREGON, WASHINGTON, & VANCOUVER

  • November 23rd & 24th, times TBD: Hollywood Theatre – Portland, OR
  • (more November Pacific Northwest locations and times will be announced soon)

DECEMBER SHOWS: ALABAMA, GEORGIA, & FLORIDA

  • December 6-15: Southeast tour leg (locations to come)
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