Magic, Do As You Will: The Last Unicorn & Peter S. Beagle

Peter S. Beagle

Oh.  My.  God.  This is Author Peter S. Beagle.  He wrote the book "The Last Unicorn".

In 1982 they made an animated movie of The Last Unicorn.  I was 7 years old, and I remember my mother taking me to see the movie at the Bedford Mall General Cinemas Movie Theater.  It was one of the first movies I saw in a theater.  I remember the Unicorn being chased by the Red Bull.  It was amazing, it blew my little seven year old mind, and it's been one of my favorite movies ever since.

I've owned that movie on VHS, on Laserdisc, on DVD and Blu-ray.  I know every line of dialogue.  Every inflection of every character's voice when speaking their lines.  The songs by America are burned into my brain.

When the Internet first started, the German import CD for the movie soundtrack was the very first thing I ever imported online from some obscure record store.

I can't convey to you how much I love this movie.

A few years ago, a remastered 4K digital print of the movie was created, and they started a world tour to show it off.  Accompanying the print on the tour was the original author of the book, Peter S. Beagle.  He wasn't treated very well the last few decades and a core group was doing what it could to help him get the residual income he rightfully deserved when it came to licensing The Last Unicorn.

I mentioned to Red River Theatre at some point that the tour was happening and that they should try to schedule the event at the theatre.

A year or so passed, and RRT announced that they would be hosting an evening of screenings and signings and autographs and a Q&A by Peter.

My jaw dropped.  I volunteered my services.  Over and over again.  I wanted to be involved.  I insisted.  And RRT was more than happy to let me be part.

Oh.  My.  God.

I had to get a portrait of him.  I had to meet the man.

The evening was going to consist of two screenings of the 4K print in two different theaters.  Peter would come out and do a Q&A, introduce the film, and while the first room was watching the film, he was in the second room doing the Q&A and introducing the film.  After both films ended, Peter set himself up in a separate room with a whole mess of merchandise you could buy, and he graciously was singing autographs.  Even if you didn't buy anything, he would sign.  If you brought stuff from home, he'd sign it.

I got a little nervous when he first arrived before the event started.  He had been traveling all over the US.  Inside my head I was a nervous mess. "Omigodheishereandwhatifheistiredanddoesn'twanttositforaportraitandwhatamIgoingtodo".  I had a light all set up, and I didn't want to take up much of his time.  Just a few quick shots of just him and I'd be good to go.  Maybe shake his hand.  Maybe thank him for what he created and how it set fire to my seven year old brain, and how even now at 40 years old, how much I love his characters.

I grabbed his tour manager and asked him if he'd be up for a quick portrait.  "Oh!  Absolutely!  Let me get him!"

A few minutes later, Peter S. Beagle is standing in front of me with his hand extended out.  I sit him down and grab some portraits and some profile shots.  Someone tells me to get up and stand next to him and someone takes a cell phone shot of us.  When it was done, I turned and I thanked him.  For the Unicorn.  For the Red Bull.  For Molly Grue and King Haggard and all of it.  I'm seven years old and I'm watching it on a movie screen.  I'm 20-something and I'm importing the soundtrack from Germany.  I'm 40 years old and I'm meeting the man who created it all.  It was a small, fleeting moment, but it was amazing.

Sid & Peter

The remainder of the evening was fantastic.  I photographed the people attending.  I photographed him doing his Q&A's.  I hung around until the event ended, until he signed every single person's stuff, and it was a little after 1am.  He signed my imported German soundtrack.  He signed my blu-ray of the movie in three different places.  He thanked me for sticking around all night.

No, sir.  Thank you.

The Last Unicorn Screening
The Last Unicorn Screening
The Last Unicorn Screening
The Last Unicorn Screening
The Last Unicorn Screening