The Little Prince
Director: Mark Osborne
Writer: Irena Brignull, Bob Persichetti
Based on: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry‘s novella
Cast: Mackenzie Foy, Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Paul Rudd, Marion Cotillard, James Franco, Benicio Del Toro, Ricky Gervais, Bud Cort, Paul Giamatti, Albert Brooks, Riley Osborne
Seen on: 28.12.2015
The Little Girl (Mackenzie Foy) moves into a new neigborhood with her Mother (Rachel McAdams). Her Mother is a hard worker and she has big plans for the Girl, plans that need her to work very hard to achieve them. The Girl is motivated. But there’s also her strange neighbor, the Aviator (Jeff Bridges). The Aviator tells her the story of The Little Prince (Riley Osborne) whom he met many years ago. Bit by bit, the Aviator and his stories become more important to the Girl than her Mother’s plans.
The Little Prince is not so much an adaptation of the original novella as an extension and an expansion of it (you could say that it’s fan fiction). It’s a beautifully crafted film that harnesses the original message and reinforces the capitalism critique in it. I loved it.
It’s been a while that I read the novella, but it is such a memorable little book with such striking imagery that it’s still very present in my mind. The film achieves the same thing in its medium: it’s not necessarily very subtle about it (neither is the novella), but the contrast between the worlds the Girl lives in – her Mother’s grey, efficient, standardized and quantified world where all that’s important is that you get somewhere and you are useful and that you achieve something and the Aviator’s colorful, messy, chaotic creativity where dreams and experiments and curiosity rule and it doesn’t really matter where they take you – is very well handled.
Even nicer, though, is the contrast between the “real world” and the stories the Aviator tells about The Little Prince. The Little Prince’s story is done in a different animation style, making it look like it was actually made from paper (maché). Both the digital animation we’re used to and the paper style animation look great, but their difference is not only an aesthetic choice, it can be read as a comment on the times they play in as well, harkening back to the paper world with all its creases that was replaced by the much smoother digital world.
It’s simply lovely direction and design that is further enhanced by the wonderful story. And I not only mean the original Little Prince bits, but when the Girl goes on her own adventure, it felt like an organic continuation of the original story. While it touches on many different topics, at its heart is a critique of capitalism and the exploitative logic that comes with it. And that critique is as layered and complex as you could possibly ask for in a film mostly aimed at kids (and even more so than many films aimed at adults that I’ve seen).
But the film isn’t just a cerebral exercise in colors, contrasts and criticism. Far from it. In fact, the characters are engaging (and flavored with a most excellent voice cast) and I cried quite a bit during the film. And when I say I cried, I don’t mean that there were a couple of tears rolling down my cheek. I ugly cried. I literally sobbed. I can’t remember the last time that happened to me during a film. That isn’t a complaint. In fact, I don’t really have any complaints about this film. I can only urge you to see it.