Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

US movie (1985). 20th Century-Fox/ Universal/Legend Productions. Pr Arnon Milchan. Dir Ridley Scott. Spfx Nick Allder. Mufx Rob Bottin. Screenplay William Hjortsberg. Starring Billy Barty (Screwball), David Bennent (Gump), Tom Cruise (Jack), Tim Curry (Darkness), Cork Hubbert (Brown Tom), Anabelle Lanyon (Oona), Alice Playten (Blix), Mia Sara (Lili). 94 mins. Colour.

Lili, a princess, loves forest boy Jack (> Jack). He takes her to see the last pair of Unicorns, and she touches the stallion, apparently corrupting him with her mortality, despite her Virginity; in fact, a party of Goblins sent by the Lord of Darkness (i.e., Satan) – who wishes unicorns exterminated so everlasting night may fall – have shot the creature with a poisoned dart. As the goblins hack the horn from its forehead, Winter falls upon the world. Jack befriends the Puck figure SPIRIT Gump, with his Companions Screwball and Brown Tom. The Fairy Oona – usually just a blob of light but capable of Shapeshifting – leads him to an ancient suit of armour and a golden Sword, for he is to be their Champion. Lili and the last unicorn are snared by the goblins and taken to the Great Tree, a kind of Edifice which is the heart of the world's Evil; our heroes follow and are tipped into a small-scale Hell. Eventually they use sunlight and Heath Robinson gadgetry to destroy Darkness.

The plot of L resembles an amalgam of bits from numerous other Fairytales. This same feeling persists visually: the set-pieces sing with familiarity. Yet the concentrated synthesis of derivative components achieves a freshness that is hard to convey. This quality is encapsulated in the exceptionally otherworldly performances of Bennent and Lanyon. [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.