„.. on ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.”
[..It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye]
After working on movies like „Kung Fu Panda” or „SpongeBob SquarePants”, Mark Osborne engages on a project involving a world famous classical story. Bringing “The Little Prince” to the big screen can be a “sacrilege” for everybody who grew up with this story and Osborne himself had a few doubts on doing this. Instead of making a straight adaptation, he built a story around the book, to protect it. Although, on first sight, seeing how the movie begins, you might believe that this is an adaptation, the animated feature is actually the story of a story.
The main character is a little girl, whose life is planned carefully by her mother, every year, month, day, hour and minute. Although, the book opens with the aviator crashing in the desert, where he meets the Little Prince, the movie begins with the image of the little girl being prepared by her mother for the very grown‐up world in which they live. The appearance of the kind‐hearted neighbor, The Aviator, turns her life around. Saint-Exupéry’s story becomes the connection between the two characters: the little girl – an adult in the body of a young child, who discovers the real life with the help of the aviator – a young soul within an old and tired body, who loves airplanes, drawings and beautiful stories. Taking this idea as a starting point, the movie becomes a search in the bizarre grown-ups world, focused on useful and numbers, for the childish soul that resides inside all of us. Growing up is not the problem, forgetting is and this is the main issue with our grown-up world.
[Ce n’est pas de grandir qui est grave (…), il ne faut pas oublier]. The Little Prince becomes the symbol of returning to the forgotten self, to the world where everything is possible through imagination. It is human connections that matter most, not the material world, this „taming”, that allows us to become unique, just like the Little Prince’s Rose was unique in the world.
It’s really emotional to watch the Little Girl’s transformation, leaving, in the end, to find the Little Prince and finally understanding that the body is only a shell for the spirit, that “essential invisible to the eye”.
From the technical point of view, this animated feature combines two different styles: the CGI to represent the grown-up world, the adult, and the stop-motion for the story, the childish soul. The stop-motion created using papier mâché characters, really delicate and emotional, inspired by Saint-Exupéry’s drawings, is used in order to keep the poetic effect, bringing homage to the author and his work, but also to draw us in the story. Having an artistic team with a broad experience working on movies from „Mulan” or „Tarzan” to „9”, „Ice Age” or „Hotel Transylvania”, with Peter DeSève („Ice Age”, „Ratatouille”…) as character designer and Jamie Caliri („Lemony Snicket”) directing the stop-motion, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the finished result is so wonderful, creating a world full of surprises and enhancing the authors message.
The movie, like the book, is dedicated to us, the grown-ups, who forget about our inner child; forget to see with our soul, instead of just using our eyes; forget to make place to the smallest joy.
I invite you to watch this beautiful animated feature, but also to (re)read Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s story, so you can rediscover the Little Prince inside you.