Written by: Irena Brignull, Bob Persichetti, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (Original Novel)
Directed by: Mark Osborne
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Rachel Mcadams, James Franco, Marion Cottilard
Based on the timeless novella by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince is the legend of an Aviator who crashes into the Sahara desert, only to befriend a little boy from another planet – as seen through the eyes of a little girl in today’s world.
‘’ You’re going to be a wonderful grown-up’’
The movie is based on the classic childrens’s story of the same name but is not a direct adaptation of it. In it, an airman crashes his plane in the desert, then meets a mysterious kid who claims to live on a tiny planet – however in the movie, it is inserted into a more conventional Disneyfied empowerment story involving a nine-year-old girl (Mckenzie Foy).
The girl’s minutely-monitored life is overturned by an eccentric elderly next-door neighbor (Jeff Bridges) who has, of all things, an ancient biplane in his back garden. It all begins with the workaholic mother (Rachel Mcadams) projecting her own ambitions on to her little girl, with a hint of sexism and perfectionism.
With every minute of her life virtually planned out to become the perfect student at the Werth Academy, the driven little girl soon finds herself enjoying the company of her neighbour, and sails through a dreamy, colorful world of imagination.
The movie splits its time between the aviator telling the girl about his encounter with the little prince and the girl’s struggles to resist her mother’s tyrannical reign. It teaches us that growing up isn’t the problem, forgetting your childhood is.
Off The Mark
Director Mark Osborne(Kung Fu Panda) has silenced a lot of critics with this wonderful adaptaion, but seemed more concerned about what the audience would think of the book, rather than making the movie about the book. Along with writers Irena Brignull & Bob Persichetti, they tried to bring contemporary storyline using the book, while staying true to it.
The animation is split between stop-motion for the little prince, and traditional, average CGI for the girl’s story. Although the storyline isn’t as endearing or mythical as the original classic, Osborne does great justice to the story of the prince. They only make a mush of it in the final third, when the girl decides to set out on an adventure to save the dying aviator (NOT A SPOILER!). This leads her to uncover the fact that the little prince now lives in our world, a bombshell that the writers somehow didn’t seem to exploit enough. The chases and spills that ensue are all peculiarly visualized.
Kudos to Hans Zimmer and Richard Harvey for an excellent score which slots in perfectly with the theme of the movie, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows these names. The stop-motion animation is first-rate, what with the scarves flowing with the wind and all that.
The color-scale has been used well to describe the mundane nature of adulthood in the girl’s story, presenting a muted monochrome perspective.
A Starry Night
Jeff Bridges (Iron man, The Big Lebowski) does a superior riff to the coot of a neighbor who is the aviator, while Rachel Mcadams (Notebook, Midnight In Paris) does just enough to make the uptight mother not sound like a heartless soul.
Mckenzie Foy (Interstellar) is one of the two stand-out performances in the movies in my opinion, the other one being Ricky Gervais (Derek, The Office) as the conceited man. The casting overall was tastefully carried out, highlighting all the characters the prince met.
Marion Cotillard (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises) as the Rose, Benicio Del Toro (Sicario, Snatch) as the snake, James Franco (127 Hours, Pineapple Express) as the Fox, Bud Cort (The Big Empty) as the King and Albert Brooks (Finding Nemo) as the Businessman are excellent castings. Paul Rudd (Friends, Ant-man) added some fun as the grown-up Prince.
All in All
While today’s animated movies contain lot of over-simplification, The Little Prince is an exception. The dialogues were not dumbed down for the audience with puns and double-meaning jokes. It does not shy away from some of the more serious aspects of Saint-Exupéry’s novella, but makes them more accessible for a young audience by creating links between the two storylines in the film, and so imbuing the movie with a beautiful sincerity.
That being said, the movie is too symbolic for its own good, making it slow-paced. In a nutshell, it is something exclusively for fans of the book, and the ones who aren’t will most definitely find it a waste of resources.
Watch this if: you’re a fan of the book.