Monday, August 8, 2016


The latest film version of Antoine de Saiut-Exupery's beloved 1943 novella The Little Prince has waited a long time to be seen. The film, directed by Mark Osborne (KUNG FU PANDA), had its debut at the famed Cannes Film Festival in 2015, and was slated for a Spring release in 2016. After some still-unexplained delays, the film has finally landed on Netflix for all to see. Despite a direct-to-home release with little time in theaters, this version of THE LITTLE PRINCE is very much a film, and worthy of being considered true cinema.

Brought to life with a combination of old-school stop-animation and computer generated 3D animation, this version of THE LITTLE PRINCE tells the story of The Little Girl (voiced by Mackenzie Foy), who has every minute of her life planned out by her mother (Rachel McAdams). Tired of the mundane, The Little Girl befriends her next-door neighbor, a weird old man known as The Aviator (Jeff Bridges), who sparks her imagination when he tells his story of his experience long ago with a strange child known only as The Little Prince. 

The original novella for The Little Prince was a story which embraced the art of storytelling. This new film version stays very true to that idea by becoming a story within a story within a story. It's an approach which easily could have become a muddled mess, but in the caring hands of director Mark Osborne, THE LITTLE PRINCE stays on course. The film is a journey for The Little Girl as her imagination, long held in check by her over-organizing, yet well-intentioned mom, finally gets to soar. 

Not content to just tell the traditional story of The Little Prince within the framework of another story, Osborne and his team of writers are also busy playing with a lot of themes. Big ideas of love and family, along with what it means to let go of childhood and enter the world of grown-ups are just the tip of the cinematic iceberg. A lot of the themes take physical forms on the screen; a sequence in which childhood objects are tossed into a machine and ground into paper-clips is a little too on-the-nose in addressing playthings being traded in for practical things...but within the story it works, and it works well. The animation is stunning as computer animation is used for The Little Girl's World, and then switches to stop-motion for the world of The Little Prince as she imagines it. It's a clever presentation method, beautiful to look at, and is vital to the film's central theme of bridging the gap between the old and the new. 

The extra-large and talented voice cast are all excellent. Mackenzie Foy is excellent as The Little Girl, and Rachel McAdams does great work as the mom. Jeff Bridges is an absolute blast as The Aviator. The film takes great advantage of the rest of the cast by putting them in just the right roles; James Franco (The Fox), Marion Cotillard (The Rose), Benicio del Toro (The Snake), Bud Cort (The King), Albert Brooks (The Businessman), and Ricky Gervais (The Conceited Man) are perfectly is a few other surprise voices. 

The finale goes for an emotional knockout, and does land very well. By the movie's end many of us may find ourselves digging through storage to find our old toys, just to see if those old and cherished childhood memories are truly lost to the complicated world of grown-ups. The ability for a movie to have that sort of impact is a special one, and one that THE LITTLE PRINCE has always been well-suited for. 


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