Back to my university year, the subject was Prose 2 when I first read Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s timeless Le Petit Prince a.k.a. The Little Prince. As far as I recall, it was an in-depth discussion of anxiety in children literature and my lecturer posed a hypothesis stating that different perception of reality projected by children and grown-ups becomes the “core of the anxiety” as portrayed in the novella.
A handful of adaptations has been made since its initial release in 1943—from the most faithful one to some deviant one—but the common consent never changes. There’s always been a nod to contrast perception between children vs. adult. Mark Osborne’s adaptation is no different; it’s a modern imagining of the classic; it’s not in a completely faithful mode; but it still got the spirit.
Osborne’s Little Prince is more like an expansion of the classics. It doesn’t introduce audience to the titular prince in the first place, but an unnamed little girl (Mackenzie Foy or Clara Poincaré, depends on your version) living with an obsessed single mother (Rachel Mc Adams or Florence Foresti). They have just moved to a new house neighboring to a quirky house of a quirky old man, which happens to be the old-guy version of the Aviator from the book (Jeff Bridges or André Dussollier), who would finally befriend the girl and open a new world for her—a world that most grown-ups have forgotten.
To be honest, the well-crafted plot presented in this movie is basically enticing until the most fundamental question emerges: “Who is the target audience?” For children, this Little Prince might look obscure although some visual spectacles might be wooing. The blending-in and juxtaposition of the original classic presented in beautiful stop-motion arts and the present story (of a little girl and the old man) are splendidly interwoven to bring up the main idea: to grow up without being like those square grown-ups. However, it might not get any perplexing for younger audience nor it gets digestible in a straight viewing.
Compared to the stop-motion, the traditional 3D animation often plays big, although most of it is not really eye-catching. What caught most is still the underlying philosophy—an ageless one, and surprisingly, the special bond between the Aviator and the little girl to juxtapose his bond with the Little Prince in the book. It’s also interesting how every piece of details of the titular book fits every aspect of the modern story, it’s very likable without trying so hard to be so.
The Little Prince is not beautiful because of its visuals nor its simplicity, but rather its philosophical elements wrapped in its warmth.
The Little Prince (2015)
a.k.a. Le Petit Prince
Animation, Drama, Fantasy Directed by: Mark Osborne Written by: Irena Brignull, Bob Persichetti based on a novella by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Voiced by: Rachel McAdams, Jeff Bridges, Paul Rudd, Mackenzie Foy, Marion Cotillard (English Version); André Dussollier, Florence Foresti, Clara Poincaré (French Version) Runtime: 108 mins