Wow. The Little Prince, written by Antoine de Saint-Exupery and first published in 1943. I’ve never heard of Le Petit Prince until seeing this trailer after Netflix had picked it up. It’s a gorgeous and meaningful animated film that reaches the bar Pixar frequently raises (the closest comparison is Inside Out).
The movie opens with The Little Girl and her Mother in a waiting room for an entrance interview for a prestigious academy with other potential students. The Little Girl and her Mother have clearly been prepping for this moment. The door opens and a shell-shocked kid and his crying parents walk by. The Little Girl is next. Confident and rehearsed, she takes her place ready to knock their questions out of the park. She’s asked a question she wasn’t prepared for and goes down in flames. No matter, her mother says, we’ll pivot to Plan B, prep you up again and you’ll be in that school. Her mother constructs an elaborate and exhaustive plan (move into the school district and study like mad) for her daughter’s summer vacation.
Moving to their new home, two things are apparent. One, The Little Girl is very lonely. It’s just her and her mother and her mother works all the time. The Little Girl is expected to stick to a rigors schedule to prepare her for her future. Everything around her is structured and pale. Second, they moved next door to a kooky old man. All the neighbors think he’s nuts.
What happens next is The Little Girl and her new neighbor, The Aviator (Jeff Bridges is perfect), become friends. Seemingly, her first friend. He shows her a life of creativity and wonder. Everything isn’t made up of straight lines, right angles and a monochrome color scheme. His world formed by The Little Prince.
I’m going to skip over a ton of details, but through the 105 minute runtime, your shown a story of what we hold dearest in life. Human connections and the ability to remember them. In telling her about The Little Prince (as told by The Aviator, it’s his memories that he’s written down), he shows The Little Girl the first steps at becoming an adult. She’s been put into a void that’s been created with competition/academics and solitude with only one voice leading her by the hand in a single direction. All the choices are made for her, there is no room to explore or ask her own questions.
The Little Prince shows her a world of possibilities where we’re linked by relationships. Reaching out to others is something we all need to do. Experiencing the world and learning together enriches people in ways books can’t. Some of those relationships may be temporary and some of them long-lasting. The hardest part of that (re: life) is that every connection does end. Physically it ends. But that doesn’t mean the relationship stops. We have our memories. It’s important not to forget.
The Little Girl’s life is shown to us using really good CG animation. While the latest Pixar and Dreamworks movie push the tech further with more ambitious set pieces and special effects, what they’ve done here is very attractive. The facial animation is the main highlight and the later segment with The Little Girl on her adventure to find The Little Prince shows off some serious technical chops.
The star of the show is the gorgeous stop-motion animation used for The Aviator telling the story of The Little Prince. Everything looks like it’s made of paper as we flit and bound from each segment. From the desert to tiny planets to green landscapes with trees and rose archways with the companionship of The Fox, it’s all amazing. The division of CG and stop-motion (there’s some 2D animation too!) works incredibly well. Great idea and execution.
A big surprise for me, I liked it a lot.