The Little Prince Is A Movie Adaptation That Won’t Ruin Your Childhood
People get really worked up about Hollywood tinkering with stuff they loved when they were kids—sometimes justifiably so (see: a Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure remake starring Justin Bieber) and sometimes not so much (see: the man-baby outcry over an all-female Ghostbusting crew). If you, like me, have adored French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince since you were small, I’ve got good news for you: the 3D movie version that hits theatres today is actually great.
The Little Prince had its Cannes premiere almost a year ago, featuring a cast of big-name Hollywood stars like Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Paul Rudd, Marion Cotillard, Benicio del Toro, Ricky Gervais, Paul Giamatti, Albert Brooks, and James Franco. (Don’t let that last name set off any alarm bells: Franco keeps himself in check to the point where you don’t even realize he’s in the movie until the credits roll.) It’s directed by Mark Osborne (Kung-Fu Panda), who proved his dedication to the project by pitching it 400 times over the course of four years. The resulting movie has Saint-Exupéry’s story at its centre, with his beautiful watercolour illustrations perfectly translated into stop-motion animation.
Osborne adds an additional, computer animated layer to the tale, setting up Saint-Exupéry’s Aviator, now in the last years of his life, as the next door neighbour of an overburdened eight-year-old saddled with a minute-by-minute schedule that extends into her early 20’s and bedroom decor that boasts a collection of snowglobes containing brutalist office architecture.
Known only as The Little Girl, she’s to spend her summer break becoming “Worth material” (i.e. labouring over a mountain of schoolwork meant to gain her admittance to Worth Academy). Instead, The Aviator introduces her to the story of the Little Prince, trading a fear-fueled adult world for one where she uses her imagination to learn things textbooks can’t teach.
The adults in The Little Girl’s life say things like “You’re going to make a wonderful grownup”, giving childhood a singular purpose: getting to the end of it so that you can finally do something worthwhile. That is, be a productive member of a meeting-scheduling, report-producing, higher-than-expected-fourth-quarter-returns society.
The Little Prince’s message is the opposite, its poignancy has only been amplified since its original publication in 1943: “One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
With your childhood still firmly intact, watch the trailer for The Little Prince below. For a behind-the-scenes look at how the film was made, go here.