I first saw Voyage of the Unicorn in about 2010. I came home from work and my daughter, aged fifteen at the time, rushed up to me and yelled: "Dad, you've got to watch this!" She presented me with a DVD in a plain cardboard sleeve; it was a free gift that had been enclosed in a newspaper, the kind of thing the papers did a lot in those days. The cover was of a stout looking man holding a cutlass and surrounding him were a circuit of strange beings. "Let's watch it, Dad!" enthused my daughter. "Please?" I settled down in front of the TV and prepared myself to be bored for a couple of hours in the course of my paternal duty in keeping her company. About three quarters of the way through the film she told me she'd had enough of it and wanted to turn it off. "No!" I retorted "I want to see all of it!"
Voyage of the Unicorn can be purchased on Amazon, see: http://www.amazon.com/Voyage-Unicorn-Beau-Bridges/dp/B0009ETCXS/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1399149334&sr=1-1&keywords=voyage+of+the+unicorn. (Beware, because there is a 132 minute feature cut of this floating about; I advise buying only the full three-hour miniseries.)
However, at the time of writing the series is currently a freebie on YouTube, but please support the film makers and buy the DVD if you can:
Highlight- Miranda's dance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DXJcB0Y4L4.
People often ask me why I ever watch television, seeing as I criticize it so much. This is true and there have been some TV programmes recently that have been utter pieces of turdcraft which I have given a well-deserved and merciless pasting, for example see: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/gypsies-on-benefits-and-proud.html and: http://hpanwo-tv.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/confessions-of-alien-abductee-aftermath.html. However when it comes to my studies of the media, I cannot agree with those who say it's completely controlled by a monolithic power-structure which dictates every single thing that comes out of it. This can't be the case otherwise the media would in fact be a very different entity to what we have. A completely controlled media would have a counter-propositional side to it in order not to make the manipulation too obvious, but it would be very attenuated and insipid; for any seasoned eye this duplicity would be very transparent. The kinds of productions I talk about in this article, see: http://hpanwo.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/some-of-them-are-on-our-side.html, would never appear. I know people who tell me Avatar, Blakes 7 and V for Vendetta are pure psy-ops; in that case I'd like to ask them by what criteria could anything ever be considered genuine by them?
Some programmes in the mainstream media are in fact good, and some a truly magnificent. A few months ago I did a review of my favourite, Gone to Seed, see: http://hpanwo.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/gone-to-seed.html, and the one now under discussion is without a doubt a close runner up. Voyage of the Unicorn is a "TV movie". This, as its name suggests, is a film produced specifically to be broadcast on television and is not intended to be released in cinemas. This inevitably makes TV movies stylistically distinct from films targeted at the big screen; they tend to have smaller casts, a less ambitious scope and less sophisticated plots. They very often have lower budgets and even if they sign up a star to play the lead role, the supporting acts tend to be from the B-movie pool. They're often formatted like the episodes of a TV drama series and have minor suspense scenes added periodically, together with pauses worked into the score, for the inevitable commercial breaks. They're sometimes regarded with snobbish condescension by movie connoisseurs; there is even a film called Based on an Untrue Story which is a parody of TV movies, see: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0106362/?ref_=ttpl_pl_tt. If there is any point I could ever agree with less, when I watch Voyage of the Unicorn I truly doubt it. This particular "TV movie" comes from
and was broadcast on the TV1000 channel in 2001. It was directed by Philip
Spink and written by Dan Levine.
The film is centred on a man called Prof. Alan Aisling, played by Beau Bridges, the best known actor in the film. He's a university lecturer who has two daughters, Miranda, who is aged about sixteen and Cassandra, who is three or four years younger. Aisling leads quite a lonely life since his wife died some months before the start of the story. His life consists mostly of looking after his daughters, who are taking their mother's death very badly. When he is at work he teaches a course in comparative mythology, only he does it in a very unorthodox way. He writes on the classroom blackboard the words credendo vides, this is Latin for "by believing one sees"; this becomes the motto for the entire film. One student shows him a brass doorknob and says it reminds her of the sun; and Prof. Aisling, instead of telling her not to be silly and to put it away, congratulates her on her imaginative and creative thoughts. He's a very non-conformist teacher, the kind I wish I'd had when I was at school. Unfortunately Aisling's maverick teaching methods result in him falling out of favour with the university authorities, in a storyline similar to the wonderful film Dead Poets Society. The officious and highly conventional dean of the college reprimands him for leading his students astray from "what they really need" which is practical and scientific matters alone and not "airy fairly" nonsense. Aisling retorts emphatically: "Science begins with imagination!" Voyage of the Unicorn is based on Voyage of the Basset, an illustrated book by James C Christiansen, in which we see a picture of the dean trying to measure his own imagination with a scale! However, from the very start of the film the viewer is told that something odd is afoot. Gusts of wind keep blowing across the scenes filled with a sparkle that hints of magic. But at the same time dark and sinister shadows lurk in corners and perch on rooftops. Miranda and Cassandra are two very different girls who express their grief in different ways. Miranda is pessimistic and cynical, battening down her feelings with a facade of resilience and pragmatism. Cassandra has gone the opposite way. Their mother used to illustrate fantasy books and Cassie has become obsessed with her late mother's artwork. She has begun to have visualizations about the scenes in her mum's portfolio, seeing them as real. Sometimes in her dreams, her mother appears to her in the photo she has on her bedside table. The viewer is never told for certain whether these apparitions are just Cassie's imagination, or whether the spirit of their mother really is still watching over them. At first, like her mythological namesake, nobody listens to Cassandra. But then something happens.
Beau Bridges as Aisling, with Miranda and Cassie
For a hitherto unexplored reason, our world comes into contact with another. The dark shapes that have been haunting the characters are actually ghastly monsters from another world; they're called "trolls", but they are very similar to Tolkienian Orcs. Their leader is called Skotos, brilliantly played by MacKenzie Grey and he has come into our world to hunt down Prof. Aisling. Fortunately the same merging of dimensions has also permitted a pair of friendly helpers from that same otherworld. They are Malachi and Sebastian, captain and first mate of a ship called the Unicorn and together they and the family escape through into the
The ship is beautiful; it has a pure white sail with the words credendo vides embossed on its sail.
Below decks the magic of the world really takes hold because, like Doctor Who's TARDIS, the ship is bigger
on the inside; it contains a huge library and luxury quarters. Interestingly in
Cassie's cabin there is a wardrobe full of the most magnificent dresses, yet in
Miranda's there's just a drab homespun gown. Yet when she puts it on it
transforms Cinderella-style into multiple divine fashions. This is quite
revealing about Miranda's nature and it hints at what is to come later in the
story. Faerie Kingdom
The good ship Unicorn
Sebastian, who is an elf, is the only member of the ship's company apart from his captain Malachi. His parents were killed by the trolls when he was a child. He is clearly quite smitten by Miranda. He is a sweet soul and his flirtations with her are extremely benign and appealing. This is very politically incorrect in today's world dominated as it is by feminism; Voyage is at its basis a radically traditionalist tale. Captain Malachi is a dwarf who is good-natured and knowledgeable; he serves as the family's guide in their new surroundings. Their first port of call is Faerie Isle, the centre of the Kingdom. This is a Rivendell-like Idyll of enchanted groves, dryads, butterflies, waterfalls and sacred springs, all benevolently ruled over by King Oberon and Queen Titania; of course these are characters from William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. One of the most recognizable features of Voyage is the way its plot blends several different existing mythologies and literary allusions together, and it does so very cleverly and stylishly. Oberon and Titania then reveal to the family how they came to be brought to the Faerie Kingdom; it turns out that their heavenly land is under threat from the trolls and that there is a prophesy that they will be saved. In a very dramatic and moving scene, an ancient turtle-like creature called "the Senechal", who is a keeper of mystical knowledge, recites the prophesy: "There shall come unto us a man of wisdom and two maidens gentle of spirit. From beyond the seas, by there hand heroes enslaved be freed. Old wounds cleansed and the mightiest among us reborn. Know them by these signs, a ship, a sword and a banner thus; credendo vides- by believing one sees. Trust in their quest! Aid them, even to your peril. For they mark a new beginning and an end to darkness." Titania gives them each a special gift and private counsel intended only for themselves. However King Oberon is far more sceptical. He says: "mortals don't believe in magick." And most interestingly: "We can see into your world, but apparently you have turned your back on ours." That's a fascinating theme which I will come back to later. The balance of power in the Faerie world is kept by a great dragon, but he has vanished. The family's quest is to find the dragon and restore him... before the trolls do. The trolls are based on
MacKenzie Grey as Skotos
The first place the family look for the dragon is a ruined stone temple on a dry desert island. Cassie wanders into an underground chamber and gets lost in a maze of corridors. Here she encounters a huge being which is half man-half bull. This segment is explicitly drawn from the ancient Greek legend of Theseus, the labyrinth and the Minotaur. Unlike the original story, in Voyage the Minotaur is good; in fact he's a very strong, brave and loyal companion who joins the family on their quest. While on the island they also encounter a huge reptilian skeleton. Could this be the remains of the dragon? They take the skull back to the ship. The next island they explore has a huge temple on it too, and one far better preserved. The family go inside and come across Medusa, a gorgon. Once again the film delves into the classical world for its storyline. The gorgons are creatures that resemble a human female except they have snakes on their heads instead of hair. Their magic power means that anybody who looks into their face will be instantly turned to stone. In the Legend of Perseus, the hero beheads Medusa and then uses her head as a weapon to turn his enemies to stone. In Voyage, Aisling uses an eye-shield of amber, a gift given to him by Titania, to protect himself from Medusa's gaze. In doing so he sees that she is not really a gorgon, but a lovely woman who has been cursed. She is lonely and lost living in the temple, but dares not go outside because she keeps turning everybody she meets into stone. Aisling takes her back to the ship and turns the amber plate into a pair of goggles for her to wear so she can interact with other people in mutual safety. But first the family can't leave the temple until they've solved the Riddle of the Sphinx: "What is it that walks on four legs in the morning, on two at and on three in the evening?" The answer is: a man. As a baby, in the morning of life, he crawls on all fours; in the middle of life he walks normally on two; and in the evening of life he needs a walking stick, three legs. The Sphinx then lets them go free. In Greek mythology the Sphinx is not connected to the story of Medusa and instead guards the entrance to the city of
The Sphinx- played by Kim Hawthorne, portrayed as a typical winged humanoid
Once out at sea again the trolls' ship catches up with the Unicorn and they attack, boarding the ship. A swordfight ensues between the heroes and the trolls. It ends in disaster when Skotos captures the dragon skull; with the power of the skull he now has the authority to unify the troll clans and conquer the entire world... and even beyond. When Medusa tries to help by removing her goggles to petrify the trolls, she accidentally petrifies Malachi instead. Also the device by which the ship travels between dimensions, called the "Wunterlab", is damaged beyond immediate repair leaving Aisling, Miranda and Cassie trapped in the
Cassie, Miranda and Aisling with the Minotaur and Medusa
The Minotaur, Medusa, Malachi, Sebastian and the unicorn all join the family as they sneak ashore on
End of synopsis
After I'd watched it all the way through and realized that I was now a fan of Voyage of the Unicorn I went online to see if there were any others I could compare notes with. There are but they're almost all young girls! I was worried that their parents might think I was a paedophile for trying to communicate with them; would they really believe that I was doing so simply because I love the movie too? I actually surprise myself a bit, especially when I read through the synopsis I've just written. Voyage of the Unicorn is aimed at younger viewers, there's no doubt. A lot of its plot is not terribly original for a fantasy story; its characters are what you find in existing fantasy literature, along with beings and settings from the classics; indeed it reminds me of Homer's Odyssey in many ways along with all the other classical links I've identified. This is not uncommon. However there is a far deeper dimension to Voyage, one that other related stories might lack. This is the world of metaphor and symbolism of the human condition as it relates to the spiritual universe. There's something about it that's profoundly pagan and very pantheistic; perhaps William Blake would understand, and also the German composer Richard Wagner. I can also detect the inspiration from Tolkien. There's a strong feeling that the world of
and our own world are
involved in some kind of dialogue and there's a hint of the long prehistoric
past in which the spiritual universe deteriorated from a higher state into what
it is today. For example Oberon and Titania are rather like the subtle beings
that some psychically sensitive people report encountering. When Oberon says to
the family: "We can see into your world, but apparently you have turned
your back on ours." it rings a bell. This is a frequent complaint that is
related by witnesses to the presence of the fair folk. These beings from the
other worlds see us as having lost our spiritual senses and wish we would
regain them. Indeed Oberon goes on to declare his hope that "the Prophesy
will reopen the door between your world and ours." As I've often said,
it's not merely a case of us losing our spiritual senses; they've been stolen.
The amber lens and the way Aisling looks through it to see the truth behind the
illusion is the most manifest cipher of this concept; although it is not
without precedent, indeed it was probably borrowed from Philip Pullman, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Amber_Spyglass.
All of this is underlined by the continuous, but very ambiguous, semi-presence
of Lily, Aisling's wife and the girls' mother. Some of the things said about
the trolls, and to them, really get me thinking. When she is caught by the
trolls, Cassie tells Skotos: "You can change. I've read all about trolls
(in the Unicorn's library
presumably). There was even a time when you weren't evil at all." Skotos
recoils at this statement more than anything else in the film! Galdalf says
something similar about the Orcs in Lord
of the Rings, that they were once Elves, but then they fell from
enlightenment, like Satan fell from Heaven. Malachi also says to Aisling at one
point: "I've spent little enough time in your world, Professor... Trolls
are everywhere; different shapes and sizes, calling themselves different names,
but trolls nonetheless! They like to tear things down, make everything the same,
the way they like it..." The implication is that trolls are an archetype
for man fallen from grace. The last sentence is of course how conformist humans
behave in the Illuminati-occupied world. Skotos also mentions his visit to our
world on several occasions and explains lavishly to the other trolls how it is
ripe for plunder and that he'd like to conquer it too. And Oberon warns:
"This evil will spill into your world too." Could this signify the
notion Matthew Delooze and others have discussed, of a predatory malevolent
interdimensional intelligence that is feeding parasitically off our world, or
trying to infect it and change it into a copy of itself, like a virus? I myself
have researched the idea of the rise of the Illuminati and how it was either
the cause or effect of some kind of malfunction or decay in the spiritual
universe. Nothing embodies this concept for me more blatantly than the Roman
conquest of Faerie
two thousand years ago and I've explored the details many times, for instance: http://hpanwo-tv.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/return-to-edge-of-world.html.
For me, Faerie Isle is a representation of the pre-Illuminati world and that
the trolls represent our Illuminati-controlled world. This is very like how
many people have interpreted James Cameron's movie Avatar, with the humans and the blue creatures being metaphorical
for the conflict between the natural spiritual state of being versus the modern
materialistic circumstances we find ourselves in. The historian Michael Wood
puts it very well: "The end of sacred times, the triumph of profane
times." In the scene where the trolls pillage and desecrate Faerie Isle, I
can't help thinking that this is what it must have been like when Anglesey
fell to the Roman legions in AD 60 and the forces of that Illuminati-controlled
empire destroyed the sacred groves of the Druids and slaughtered anybody left
When Prof. Aisling comes across the Minotaur's labyrinth and realizes how similar it is to the mythology he studies, he says that the
is: "a reflection of
our reality, or maybe we're a reflection of it." This is very Platonic,
the idea that some worlds are reflections of others. This is the surprisingly
high level of intelligence that Voyage of
the Unicorn is based on; not bad for a free gift in a Sunday tabloid, eh?
It is really far more than just a simplistic cheap TV movie to pass time for
the kids. It turns out that my daughter was well aware of this when she bought
home the DVD; she later confessed that she wanted to show it to me because she
had a bet with a friend that I would love it. It was really a dead cert; she
knows me too well! But despite the insightful thought that went into making it,
Voyage is still essentially an
adventure fantasy story and you don't have to interpret it philosophically to
enjoy it. It is quite light-hearted in some scenes and it has a lovely warmth
to it. The ending is somewhat abrupt after a well-paced and structured
climactic segment; I wonder if it was originally scripted to be slightly
longer. However that is literally my only criticism of it, and as I said about Gone to Seed, a work of art doesn't
require technical perfection to be great. The score of the film is enchanting too,
it contains American big screen movie-style piano lines as well as very
aetheric lyricless vocals and uplifting pagan flute tunes. The message of the
story is that magic exists in the most unlikely places. The gusts of wind
filled with sparks of light in the opening scenes illustrate this well. You,
dear HPANWO-reader, might think I'm crazy, you might think I've forgotten that
I'm a grown man and regressed to childhood. I understand why you think that;
but you're wrong, I haven't. Whether or not you judge me this way will depend
on the kind of person you are. Have you the ability to immerse yourself in
something like Voyage of the Unicorn,
to forget all the forces holding you back from just letting yourself fly free
in a world where there really are faeries, unicorns and singing mermaids? It
will mean taking a brave step if you've never done anything like that before.
You might fear the ridicule of others, or of your own conscience. Please don't.
CS Lewis once said that the stupidest children were the most childish, and that
the stupidest adults were the most grown up. Faerie
Latest HPANWO Voice articles: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/blakes-7-on-youtube.html.
Latest HPANWO TV films: http://hpanwo-tv.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/bases-at-barge.html.
Latest HPANWO Radio shows: http://hpanwo-radio.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/programme-85-podcast-david-rave-part-2.html.