The classic book The Little Prince has spawned hundreds of translations and not a few adaptations in other media.
How would it fare in the world of millennials? Note that this 2015 animated version is not faithful to the book—that is, the book is portrayed in the context of a modern story.
In keeping with the tradition of the classic by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, the characters do not have proper names.
The animated movie starts just as the book starts, striking a nostalgic chord among generations of children who read the book.
The story revolves around a little girl who is being pressured by her mother to adhere to a life plan that will prepare her to enter the grownup world.
The mother means well, but she imposes a strict schedule that stifles any creativity. At first, the girl follows the alarms and the schedules. They move in next to an eccentric old man whose house is a stark contrast to the manicured lawns and antiseptic architecture of all the other houses in the neighborhood. Literally by accident, he crashes into the little girl’s world.
We find out that the old man is the Aviator, the narrator of the book. He reveals details of his story and more importantly, the Little Prince.
Not all the characters from the book make it into the movie. But the most memorable portrayal is that if the conceited man, by Ricky Gervais.
Other characters are the Rose voiced by Marion Cotillard, the Fox by James Franco, the Snake by Benicio del Toro, the Aviator by Jeff Bridges, and of course, the Little Prince, adorably portrayed by Riley Osborne.
Director Mark Osborne (of Kung Fu Panda fame) employs both 3D stop motion animation and computer-generated graphics. Thsi gives the film a rich texture that differentiates between the core story of The Little Prince (the book) and the little girl.
The visuals play very well on the big screen, rendering the story not only larger than life, but also encompassing another world.
Fans of the book will be amazed by the renditions of the original illustrations, so accurately duplicated. The little girl’s story is portrayed in modern, CG animation, in all its updated and lifelike glory.
In what looks like an homage to Fritz Lang’s The Metropolis, the world of industry and business is gray and symmetrical, moving at a predictable, measured, rhythmic, repetitive aka boring pace.
In complete contrast, within the walls of the old aviator’s property, colors are vibrant, different insects and animals thrive, and there are so many things that can hold someone’s attention and spur imagination. The old man and the little girl hit it off despite their difference in ages because the old man is a grownup but “never forgot.”
The music by Hans Zimmer and Richard Harvey is evocative. The songs are beautiful: in some parts, haunting but still optimistic. The story and screenplay by Irene Brignull and Bob Persichetti are successfully faithful to the Spirit of the book while updating the storytelling for the 21st century viewers—yet, not alienating generations of children at heart who are fans of the book (this writer included).
At some point, the core message of the book—it is only with the heart that one can see rightly—is hammered on too many times.
But it is, after, all the most popular, oft-quoted part.
There are many echoes of the themes and motifs of the book even early on in the film, showing a very visionary script.
The scene when the little girl and the Little Prince finally stand, shoulder to shoulder and side by side, is the most touching part of the movie.
It is not predictable because it is not in the book and it is simple but very emotional. The movie is not slow-paced, there are many action sequences that will have audiences gasping and shrieking. At times, it is thoughtful and touching, then hilarious.
You might think: how can they make such a slim book run the usual length of a movie? They did and very well indeed. Yes, it is definitely worth watching The Little Prince in the movie house.
As with many animated movies, some suspension of disbelief needs to be called on; for example: No one picked up the trash for two weeks? And, isn’t it illegal to leave a little girl home alone?
If you look up at night and see the stars just as they are, after you see this movie, you will see them for something infinitely more.