Version: 2015; starring Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, James Franco
Genre: children’s; animation
Plot Summary: [from IMDb:] “A little girl lives in a very grown-up world with her mother, who tries to prepare her for it. Her neighbor, the Aviator, introduces the girl to an extraordinary world where anything is possible, the world of the Little Prince.”
My Review: Disclaimer*: I have not read the original book, so this review will not by comparing it to that novel. Only as a story in and of itself, totally unrelated to the book.
Growing up, my mom had two copies of the French classic “The Little Prince.” One was in French (and incomprehensible to me), the other in English. Neither interested me very much. The pictures looked bland and too unbelievable. I was sure I wouldn’t enjoy the story.
Not too long ago I saw that Netflix had made an animated version of the book and I didn’t mind sitting down to spend an evening that way. I was mildly curious. I was not prepared to be blown away.
I think I was drawn into it from the first notes of music. The art, the plot, the script were beautifully done. The old phonograph playing was enough to melt my heart alone! I was nearly crying by the end of it. And now I want to read the book very much. It isn’t often that film versions inspire me to read the book, but when they do… 🙂
This movie is actually told in two stories. One is of a little girl who is expected to live a life where childhood is forgotten. She unexpectedly meets her next door neighbor, an eccentric old man (and self-proclaimed ‘hoarder’) who used to be an aviator once upon a time. He begins to woo her friendship by telling her the story of the Little Prince he met in another world long ago. The story of the Little Prince and his rose is told through stop-motion animation, and I loved every bit about it! I enjoyed it even more for it’s nuances, and thought-provoking lines about life that are hidden like gems throughout where you have to mine them to interpret the meaning for yourself. Wonderful!
There are many who abhor this film because they say it takes too many liberties with the book. Apparently the story of the little girl trying to live the expected life of an adult is not in the original. Since I’ve never read it, I don’t even know if the part of the Little Prince is told faithfully. But I know I loved the film and that it has inspired me to pick up a book I never knew I needed to read before. I would say that is the effect of a well-told, don’t you?
One of my favorite lines comes from the Aviator consoling the little girl when she tells him she doesn’t want to grow up. He responds, “Growing up isn’t the problem– forgetting is.” I wish someone had been able to tell me that when I was a kid and afraid of graduating to adulthood. This wisdom makes a world of difference because it is true! I have found that becoming a true adult is really only becoming the person you were meant to be, which includes the parts of childhood that are good and pure and young in heart. Idealistically, the aim is to shed the ‘juvenile’ ways we used to think and act. Juvenility is to be differentiated from being childlike in that it is immature, selfish, and narrow-minded. (1 Cor. 13:11) Childhood, on the other hand is essentially joy, wonder, and innocence.
I have met older adults, even Christians in their 60’s, behave like juveniles. I have met adults who have completely forgotten what is childhood, instead exuding joylessness, hyper-practicality, and busyness. But I have also met other adults who have retained their openness to life, wonder at the world, and quest to learn and grow- the mark of a true ‘child at heart.’ That is what God means for us to be, I think. And for us believers, we are all to be trusting children in relation to Him.
And He said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:3)
I do have a qualm about the movie’s plotline, and that is although it is an indie flick, it does not escape the usual Hollywood storyarc of children being better-knowing than their parents (or more often single parent): rebelling against the ‘status quo’, and teaching the parents they do not know what is best for their kids. See an excellent article on this topic here.
But the voices (esp. Jeff Bridges’ for the Aviator) were great! Bridges has a voice that has aged well, resulting in a friendly, comforting effect. I also loved the Fox, voiced by James Franco. So adorable!
I recommend this glimmering, luminous movie for family viewing, young and old alike. If you approach it being prepared that it’s more loosely based on the book, I think you’ll enjoy it.