So I watched The Little Prince…
I put watching this movie off for quite a while. The trailer hadn’t really interested me and I hadn’t read nor heard of the book this movie was based on. Having now watched (and loved) this movie and read up a bit on the book, I have to question what kind of childhood I had if I’m only learning about this story now.
Okay, basic plot: A little girl (Mackenzie Foy) and her mother (Rachel McAdams) are desperate to secure a place for the girl at the prestigious Werth Academy. The mother is willing to do anything to get her daughter in the school and even goes as far as creating a ‘life plan’ for her daughter – a schedule that will dictate the little girl’s movements and activities for every second of every day for the entire summer. The family even move to a new neighbourhood to be closer to the school. Their new next-door neighbour is an eccentric old man – The Aviator (Jeff Bridges). Although initially reluctant to interact with the man, the little girl becomes enamoured by a story that he tells her and the pair soon become close friends. The story The Aviator shares is about a boy that he met in his youth; a boy named The Little Prince. The more time that the little girl spends with The Aviator, the more she realises the importance of her childhood, and that even though growing up is inevitable, forgetting what it means to be a child isn’t.
Wow! That’s the exact feeling I had as I walked out the theatre after watching this movie. The beauty of animated films (at least the good ones) is their ability to explore mature and complex themes with humour and childlike zeal. This film takes that ability and pushes it to the nth level. This film deals with so many philosophical ideas and themes that it’s difficult to list them all in one go. This is one of those films that need repeated discussion and analysis to truly appreciate. I wasn’t expecting this film to be as good as it was or to handle as many issues as it did. This film feels like a thought-piece instead of just a mere cartoon. It deals with ideas of coming of age, loss of childhood, love, consumerism, loss of self, friendship, death, the after life…the list goes on and on. I don’t think I truly picked everything up simply because I wasn’t ready for it. It’s such a great social commentary on the society that we live in and the pressure that we put on our children and, in turn, ourselves.
This film functions exceptionally well on a deeper, more meaningful level but it’s also a great children’s movie. I hate it when movies aimed specifically for children don’t dream big enough. They get too bogged down in trying to provide logic or realism and forget the wonder and pure, unadulterated magic that is a child’s mind. Just thinking back to when I was a child and the stories and adventures and imaginary friends that I had, it was insane! There was no logic, there were no rules; it was just about it being fun and a cool adventure. This film recognises that and invites you to remember what it was like to be a child. When you looked at things with wonder instead of scepticism. Amazement and curiosity instead of indifference and apathy. This film engages your inner-child and asks you to suspend your logic, in favour for childlike wonder.
This film is also incredibly well voiced-acted. It’s a stellar cast with names like Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Ricky Gervais, Marion Cotillard, Albert Brooks, James Franco, and they all do fantastic jobs. The majority of them have limited roles and screentime in the film but they take hold of their characters and bring them to life well. Jeff Bridges does a sensational job as The Aviator and James Franco really impressed me as The Fox.
This film is, visually, very well-crafted. There are two stories being told: the first, The Aviator and the little girl’s friendship – which is in the present – and computer-animated; the second is a series of flashbacks showing The Little Prince and The Aviator, and is rendered using stop motion. I loved the two contrasting visual styles because they served as a clear point of distinction between the two stories and the stop motion brought a wonderful antic and archaic feeling to the flashbacks. The Little Prince is also very well-written. Producing an entertaining film adaptation of a book is always difficult but screenwriters, Irena Brignull and Bob Persichetti, do wonderful jobs. I loved the attention that was given to the development of the friendship between the two lead characters because the entire plot of the film rests upon that friendship. This film is also full of rich, quotable dialogue but I assume that the majority of the praise for this needs to go to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (the author of The Little Prince).
Overall, I loved this film. I cannot wait to see it again. I’m going to pressure a few friends into seeing it so that we can discuss it. I’m still debating with myself about which parts of the story are real and which are the ramblings of an old man and a gullible child. It’s a well-made movie that’s made with real love and care. I haven’t read the book so I can’t comment on whether the film truly represents the book’s work but this film is special. It deals with a myriad of issues that we all have to face some time in our life. It’s worth watching, whether you’re an adult or child. 9/10