Westley is not easily frightened by movies, but I wanted to re-watch The Last Unicorn on my own before sharing it with him because I remembered a few images in particular being especially dark. It turns out, my memories of the film are much cheerier than the film itself.
The film is about a unicorn who, upon concluding that she is the last unicorn in the world (this is later confirmed) goes on a quest to find the rest of her kind. And what a verbose quest it turns out to be! I had completely forgotten how talky the film is—and the dialog often comes as lengthy metaphor and grand observations. I was particularly struck by the powerful, magical female shit that goes down when the witch Mommy Fortuna captures the Unicorn for her Midnight Carnival:
Mommy Fortuna: The harpy's as real as you are, and just as immortal. And she was just as easy to catch, if you want to know.
Unicorn: Do not boast, old woman. Your death sits in that cage, and she hears you.
Mommy Fortuna: Oh, she'll kill me one day or another. But she will remember forever that I caught her, and I held her prisoner. So there's my immortality, eh?
Unicorn: Let me go. And let her go too. I cannot bear to see her caged. We are two sides of the same magic... The harpy and me, we are not for you.
After the Unicorn frees herself and then the harpy, Celaeno, and Mommy Fortuna (gladly) accepts her fate of death at the harpy's claws, I turned to Rob in disbelief.
"I fucking loved this movie when I was Westley's age!"
Rob grinned his I-know-you-and-that-doesn't-surprise-me-at-all grin.
I continued to be struck by the idea that as an adult—and the mother of a preschooler—I was finding this film incredibly challenging and mildly disturbing. This film I so adored when I was my son's current age.
I might still let Westley watch The Last Unicorn soon. He caught sight of the DVD case and was quite intrigued. ("What's dis?" he asked. Rob told him, "A scary movie Mommy and I watched last night.") But I'll want to be sure I can sit with him for the duration of the film. There's not a lot I object to in the movie. There is one awful moment during the climactic battle where the Unicorn is in danger and the film's resident "tough girl," Molly, calls out, "Somebody do something!" Rob pointedly corrected her: "Somebody male do something!"
Potentially objectionable material and general scariness are one thing, but Big Themes are another. Maybe I'm being overly cautious, but I feel like Westley might need me to hold his hand through the especially metaphorical parts.