The Little Prince
“Grown-ups; they never understand” … but perhaps The Little Prince can reconnect the chord between adulthood and why being a child at heart is still essential. Based on French novelist Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s famous 1940s work titled ‘Le Petit Prince’, this 2015 adaptation captures the original story’s mature storyline aimed at teaching children and adults alike a thing or two about life and the inevitable; growing up.
Produced in both French and English, we follow a fresh take-out from a classic story which adds a new character, The Little Girl (voiced by Mackenzie Foy) who, with her Mother (voiced by Rachel McAdams), has every aspect of her life sorted out on a meticulously organised drawing board. The Little Girl is more adult than she is child and nothing she does oversteps the boundaries of the time allocated for each task.
But as coincidence would have it, when she and her mother move into their new home, their neighbour happens to be an eccentric old man, The Aviator (voiced by Jeff Bridges) lives in a house which is basically a hazard zone with several bits and bobs and a frayed warplane parked in his back yard. From a rigid system of tasks and timelines to exploration and discovery, with some help from The Aviator, The Little Girl’s new path progressively unfolds.
The original story of The Little Prince put alongside that of The Little Girl and The Aviator are well connected. The Little Girl’s journey as her adultness becomes more and more undone is paralleled with the story of The Little Prince, who finds himself encroached upon by the oddness of adulthood. Not all the characters from the book make appearances but the ones who do seem to bring to the forefront issues that plague most people when they reach adulthood such as vanity and greed.
Animator and Director Mark Osborne really seems to capture the metaphors, morals and sentiments of the story and animation in a modern way while preserving some of Saint-Exupery’s signature and style.
The humour is subtle so as not to steal away from its more adult tone, however the modernity and mix of styles in the animation makes it palatable for both adults and children. The zest really lies in the story’s metaphorical messages and the way the visuals capture these messages beautifully. It is a story about the worries of ‘the real world’ paralleled with the awakening and acceptance of imagination, because “what is essential is invisible to the eye”.
There is a bit of a plot twist toward the end where it deviates a little from Saint-Exupery’s original narrative as the backbone. This, to me is the only real glitch because I think this twist could do with a little more imagination, ironically. However, although this does lead me to think that the original story truly is the strength of the entire narration, I think this twist is essential in that it ties the sentiments of the original story to the movie’s external adaptation for a modern audience, and it leads it to its ending.
Overall, from the visuals to the message and feeling of the story, The Little Prince creates a wonderful new story while maintaining the true appeal of Saint-Exupery’s original in a way anyone can enjoy, whether alone or as a family, as a kid or as a grown-up.