The Little Prince (2015)

(On Cable TV, December 2016) I’m quite amazed at how they managed to make a feature-length film out of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince. The source material is short, surreal, enigmatic and intensely poetic—it’s been said that if you don’t understand it, you’re too old. The film manages to fit an entire framing story around the source material, and the surprise is that it works relatively well despite taking place on a far more prosaic level than the original. Here, a young girl destined to a rigidly planned life discovers the wonders of imagination and whimsy—the original material showing up as stories, flashbacks, and culminating in a third act that works as a sequel to the book. It’s complex material handled by a surprisingly deft touch—the book-inspired sequences are made out of beautiful stop-motion animation, while the framing device (which ends up being bigger than the original material) is in more conventional CGI. The two different styles of storytelling work together to build a film that uses the original as a springboard to discuss equally-ambitious themes, and if the conclusion is made accessible enough for everyone, the core of the story does keep its elusive quality. The material may be a touch too abstract for younger children, but the flip side is that the film can be enjoyed by adults as well. Quite a surprise—I would have bet on a butchered adaptation, but what we get is quite decent.

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