Antoine De-Saint Exupery, the author of ‘Un Petit Prince’ or The Little Prince, published his novella in 1943 to much acclaim and surprise. It was neither a children’s book nor a strictly adult one, combining a multi-fold of stories within stories that would only capture the wildest of imaginations. I was quite taken aback by the film in quite the same way. I didn’t expect the film to be THAT complex. I think you will find this one a really nice surprise. Take the trip down memory lane and relive that inner fire and glow of childhood, the little prince we drew in fourth grade still exists somewhere out there.
Un Petit Prince is innocent enough to give you the impression that it’s simpler animation style and papery textures are child’s play. You get the feeling that you’re in for some half-assed animation, with budget visuals. Early scenes of boring infrastructure and greyish colour tones gave me the wrong impression. But you see the point afterward. Colours start popping up, characters start having more life and the inanimate transfigure themselves into wonderful little gems of childhood wonder. At first you’re introduced to a little girl (Mackenzie Foy) and her ambitious mother (Rachel McAdams) who attempts to lay out her life plans into a schedule that would dictate her daughter’s life on a day-to-day basis. Crazy right? As an asian child, this is still a tad preposterous but the idea behind it isn’t incredulous. Haha, I would have expected it to have been an asian mother, you know, like one of those asian immigrant ‘tiger-moms’ who have super unrealistic expectations and then somehow make their children abide by their standards. As a child who has and continues to grow up in an extremely competitive and a greyishly mundane society, The Little Prince hit home hard.
I found the explicit nature of the metaphors a nice touche. It didn’t just look nice, it was almost like the film itself wanted to break out of it’s confines; It wasn’t simply contented with being a film which meekly fills the middleground. Wonderful galaxies encompass a world just like our own and journeys through the cosmos represent a never-ending search for meaning in reality; The Little Prince’s allusions and personifications are wittily charming and painfully true. Do not be fooled by the unassuming title, the little prince is actually the film’s most complex creation and still gives rise to varied interpretations.
The Old Man (Jeff Bridges) is the one character who breathes life into all the stories. As he foresees his eventual passing, the narrative that one should hold on to the past shifts into something more nuanced as the film draws nearer to its close. It’s fascinating reading up on Antoine Exupery and watching the old man and the little prince, thinking that they might all be a reference to each other. The fox, the snake, the stars, the otherworldly characters and almost all symbols in the film contribute to the film’s overarching themes of memory and change. In a short amount of time, they quickly form a lasting impression on my mind, more so than what many other animated films can do.
Though the movie might have been quite comical and a little unsettling when mocking the draconian rigidities and materialistic fetishism that have become commonplace in the world, it’s more innocent symbols remain of greater intrigue. The significance of character relationships that seem the simplest become more and more interesting till the point where you forget that they are simply the Old Man’s literary constructs. In the latter part of the film, the line between reality, story-telling and perspective become transcendant. I became wholly transfixed on the film’s deepening perspective on life, love, guilt and the idea that we’ve done our best and it’s time to move on. It would not be a stretch to say that this humble and utterly heartwarming picture is among the best animated films ever created. It’s neither artsy nor dazzling, but it moves the child in us. Perhaps, it will also move the adult we’ve become.
Rating: 10/10 My first 9.5/10 for 2016 and that’s pretty early 😉 If anything, it’s my best film of the year so far, so have a watch!
Ohh and Marion Cotillard as The Rose, Benicio Del Toro as The Snake and James Franco as The Fox. But they were all so good, I honestly didn’t even know they were voicing the characters. Didn’t matter, they were whoever they were and it’s just so damn good. Main credit to Mackenzie Foy and Jeff Bridges!