The Little Prince (2015) directed by Mark Osborne
In a strange coincidence, it was only a few months after I had first read The Little Prince that I realised there was a film adaptation of it available on Netflix. Recently returned from my travels, and feeling very jetlagged, I was looking for something new but easy to watch; when I saw the poster image for The Little Prince film, I knew this was the film to get me through the evening. I was unsure how they would capture the tone of the novella since it is so unique, but I didn’t need to worry. This was a wonderful adaptation that kept the tone and themes of the novel, resulting in an emotional look at human imagination.
The narrative of Saint-Exupéry’s novella is framed in this adaptation by the Little Girl discovering the story of the Aviator and the Little Prince. After moving in next door to the Aviator, she gradually grows to trust him enough to listen to all he has to say about the Little Prince and, indeed, about life itself. I thought this framing device was really well done, and it was definitely effective in adding to the emotional impact of the film. Throughout the film, she acts as the audience surrogate, reacting to the Aviator and the Little Prince as the audience reacts; she is the one with whom the audience is truly engaged. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was a deliberate decision to frame the narrative with a young, female protagonist in order to address the lack of female protagonists in animated films.
Despite the changes, this is still an adaptation that is very faithful to the novella. The themes Saint-Exupéry was exploring in his writing are played out beautifully over the screen: there is that same bittersweet nostalgia for childhood and the freedom of imagination that it brings. Throughout the film, that message is emphasised as the audience is shown that to grow up and forget is a dangerous thing. But this film is also a touching exploration of grief and how it affects children; I thought the way this particular theme was handled was really poignant.
On a more aesthetic level, this is a beautiful, beautiful film. The animation is incredible; both the computer animation and the stop motion animation are so intricate, and each are filled with beautiful repetitions. The way that each animation style is used to tell a different part of the narrative is clever, and makes the moment at the end when they come together is so powerful. The soundtrack, too, is a wonderful addition to the tone of the film. Hans Zimmer and Richard Harvey have done a fantastic job of bringing the music together, and I am hoping they will release some of it at some point.
If you have been following the story behind the making of this adaptation, you might be aware that it was pulled from a wide release in cinemas at the last minute for no apparent reason. I really can’t understand why such a beautiful and moving film wouldn’t get a wider release, but I am definitely glad that Netflix picked it up for release there. This is such a wonderful film, I really can’t recommend it enough. If you have Netflix (or a friend who has Netflix), this is definitely one for the watch list.