The Little Prince
Combining the touching sentiments of the best Pixar films with its own charming and fragile atmosphere, The Little Prince breathes new life into its classic source material, delivering a masterfully crafted adventure full of meaning, excitement, and a beautiful sense of wonder.
Partially based on Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s cherished bestseller of the same name, The Little Prince uses a seamlessly implemented framing device to tell the story in a unique and extremely effective way. The film centers on an overworked young girl whose good-intentioned but unrelenting mother has her entire future planned out for her. Her days are filled with endless studying in order to prepare her for attendance at a prestigious academy, leaving little time for less essential things like entertainment and friends.
One day, the Little Girl – whose name is never revealed – breaks the monotony by meeting a kind old man known only as the Aviator, whose eccentricities and colorful personality act in stark contrast with everything in the Little Girl’s world. He recounts to her the extraordinary tale of the Little Prince, a passionate and curious boy whom the Aviator had encountered years prior after crashing in the Sahara desert. It is through this story and the Aviator’s friendship that the Little Girl learns the true importance of prioritizing creativity over dullness, as well as all the complexities and tragedies of life.
The film’s most undeniable triumph is its sumptuous visuals. As the film progresses, its animation style is altered. With crisp computer animation being used in the world of the Little Girl, but breathtaking stop-motion animation in the tale of the Little Prince. These visuals are aided greatly by a truly magnificent score from Hans Zimmer and Richard Harvey. Dreamlike and ethereal, the music swells gorgeously at all the right moments, with its delicacy perfectly matching the heart of the film’s story. Few would argue that the film is not a genuine work of art on its surface, but thankfully, its style does not drown out its substance.
Although its third act may intermittently struggle and sometimes contains overt symbolism, the film otherwise balances its two stories perfectly thanks to an intelligent script which honors its source material without directly adapting it. By blurring the lines between fantasy and reality and connecting the worlds of the Little Girl and the Little Prince, the film demonstrates that their stories are one and the same, and is therefore able to convey all the heartfelt messages that made the book so acclaimed and universally beloved.
These messages are told through poetic and memorable dialogue which is delivered impeccably by an ensemble cast containing Jeff Bridges (whose voice flawlessly embodies the Aviator), Paul Rudd, James Franco, Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams, Benicio Del Toro, Ricky Gervais, Albert Brooks, Paul Giamatti, and Mackenzie Foy as the Little Girl. Despite such identifiable voices, newcomer Riley Osborne manages to break through and shine in his role. His cadences make each and every line spoken by the Little Prince unbelievably emotive and empathetic, bringing the character soaring to life.
Despite being a film made for children, The Little Prince does not shy away from big ideas, nor does it coast on witless humor or pandering gags. Just like its source material, it instead trusts its audience and the strength of its story, and in doing so, it delivers a tale full of powerful emotion and delightful wonder. Balancing depth and character development with adventure and dazzling visuals, The Little Prince constantly keeps the audience engaged, and may even move them so much as to bring them to tears. Its message is a simple but important one, that becoming an adult does not mean that one must do away with everything that makes them unique. Work may be essential for survival, but it is our creativity and interpersonal relationships that should truly define us. We must never forget to look at the world not always through our ever calculating minds, but instead with our hearts, for only then can we find joy in our surroundings. As the Aviator says, “growing up is not the problem – forgetting is.” I, for one, will never forget The Little Prince.