The Little Prince is a remarkable feat of literature that is one of the biggest selling books of all time. Fame comes at a price, however, and with books it usually means poor movie adaptations.
When successful, you could achieve a lifetime of fame in your own right. Cut one paragraph and prepare for a fan backlash like no other - keep the characters the same, prepare for a twitter shitstorm like no other. It's a balance that's notoriously difficult to achieve - appease fans, appease critics, appease the studio.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince ticks every box but wades knee-deep in bullshit by sidestepping a thoroughbred adaptation, ie. one that stays true to the plot. A frame narrative weaves the original tale as a literal, physical book, where the line between reality and fiction is blurred, into a mildly dystopian 'real' world.
We follow the Little Girl (Mackenzie Foy) whose life is intimately planned out by her career-oriented mother (Rachel McAdams) so she can get into the best school in the area, a path that will most likely lead to a wonderfully boring, yet executive, office job. The mother's plan is foiled by neighbour the Aviator (Jeff Bridges), who befriends the Little Girl. It's his story of the titular character that distracts her from her daily grind and opens her eyes to the joyful possibilities of never growing up.
Contrasting animation plays on the narrative structure, with the core plotline exclusively Pixar-esque whilst the titular story plays out in stop-motion. This quaint symbolism helps establish the book's morals more efficiently - it is, in every sense, philosophical stabilisers for kids. The best part is that it's just nice to look at.
Surprisingly emotional in content, the script could only work with the great voice work of the cast. Jeff Bridges provides a comforting, fatherly presence that adds to the emotional depth. Mackenzie Foy's soft and curious inflections counter, but not drastically. They seem to have a genuine friendship.
Film as a Film - 4 / Target Audience - 3 / General Audience - 4
The Little Prince is available on Netflix
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