I must make a confession right now. I am a huge nerd for this story. I grew up watching the movie over and over and over. Move over Barney and Dora, this Unicorn story is why I still, to this day, love unicorns. The mythology of unicorns is fodder for any dreamy-eyed young girl. Stories are told of how young virginal maidens would walk into a clearing in a forest and sit quietly or perhaps play a song on an instrument. A unicorn, it is said, would then be drawn to her and would gently put its head in her lap. A series of historical tapestries illustrates some of the story. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hunt_of_the_Unicorn)
This book is a story of a unicorn who has discovered that after many years of living in a forest, she may indeed be the last of her kind. Unable to believe this, she sets out from the safety of her home to wander the land in search of others like her. On her journey, she meets a bumbling young magician with a good heart and a middle-aged woman, Molly, who has lost her faith in so much until she sees the unicorn. There is a very acute moment in the story (done well in the book and movie), where Molly first sees the unicorn. At first she is angry; how dare she come to her now, when she is now so bitter and worn with life's trials. The unicorn understands the pain, if not the circumstances, and soon Molly is able to follow the unicorn as a faithful friend. It's easy for me to now see a parallel to my IF journey and my struggles with hope and bitterness, faith and failure. (http://youtu.be/sFfBuzddUMk)
Unicorns represent a kind of purity of soul. It's not hard to understand, then, why the tapestries mentioned above use the symbol of the unicorn to represent Christ. A unicorn is pure white and all its power is contained in its horn. Men often seek out the unicorn, not to know or understand it, but to take that power for themselves. In the book, only pure-hearted, or magical people can see the unicorn for what she is. Most just see a white mare. In the book, during her travels, the unicorn is captured by an evil witch, Mommy Fortuna, in a traveling carnival of magical animals. Mommy Fortuna's animals are not all magical in the assumed sense though. The unicorn sees through Fortuna's spells to see a toothless lion, an ape with a twisted foot, portrayed as bigger, scarier mytical creatures. And since most people would only see a white mare in a cage, the unicorn is given a false horn.
Symbolism abounds, as you can imagine. :) I'll post a summary of the second half of the story later, for those of you who aren't reading this one.