Having been dropped from Paramount’s release schedule a few months ago, the surprisingly delightful adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s revered and much loved novel, The Little Prince, finally finds its way home to Netflix. And, whilst it’s easy to see why the movie studio may have had a change of heart – it’s an animation filled with mature themes and weighty metaphors – one can’t help but feel disappointed that this beautiful piece of work has been relegated to television.
For anybody who is familiar with the original 1943 story – voted the best book of the 20th century by France – you may be shocked by the film’s new take on the source material. What could be best described as a sequel to Saint-Exupéry’s story, the lead hero is a young girl – we never find out her name – who has been raised in an incredibly grey, adult world full of perfectly cubed homes and gardens.
In the summer before she begins attending a prestigious Academy, her mother has mapped out how she is to spend every minute of every hour of the day. However, this strict schedule starts to fall at the wayside as the young girl begins a friendship with her neighbour; an elderly aviator whose rickety home is full of life and colour.
This is where things get rather clever, as the aviator character is the very same aviator who appears in the original ‘Little Prince’ book, and who begins to recount the story to us and the young girl. This ingenious narrative device not only allows the film-makers some creative freedom in the way they bring the story to life – the additional layer of plot expands on the themes of life, adulthood, childhood, love and death that feature in the story – but also allows the animators an opportunity to create some lovely visual flourishes.
Whilst the modern day is suitably animated in the computer generated style we’ve come to expect from Pixar, the sequences that are set within the world of the Little Prince bring the book’s wonderful illustrations to life through remarkably detailed stop-motion. The visuals are so splendid that they truly deserve to be seen on the biggest screen possible
As stunning as the film is, it’s the story which will stay with you longest. There’s enough surface-level magic to keep the little ones enthralled – as well as some fantastic messages about growing up – but there are deeper roots buried beneath; roots which, like the Prince’s one true love – a rose – grow and bloom into something much more spiritual, much more poetic and much more touching than you might expect. It made this twenty-eight-year-old smile, laugh and cry – a sure sign of the film’s success – and is a little gem that’s well worth seeking out.
Image credit to http://www.impawards.com