The Animation Corner: The Little Prince

BENJAMIN K. PAPLHAM | ENTERTAINMENT COLUMNIST

From director Mark Osborne (“Kung Fu Panda”) comes an adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s beloved novella, “The Little Prince” (1943). The film version (2015) takes some liberties, placing the novella’s plotline within a new framework following the adventure of The Little Girl. The Little Girl is trapped inside a clockwork adult world that values robot-like intelligence devoid of imagination, but all of that changes when her elderly neighbor, the Aviator, tells her the tale of The Little Prince “who lived on a planet that was scarcely bigger than himself.”

What I found interesting about “The Little Prince” is that there really shouldn’t be anything worth talking about. And what I mean is that the plot and the characters aren’t anything I haven’t seen before. Essentially, the film is divided into three parts: the computer animated world with The Little Girl, the stop-motion world of The Little Prince and the last third of the movie where both worlds collide. All three parts lean on tropes to further relationships or plot. Dissatisfaction with how life is planned out, useless parents, eccentric wise old man, animal sidekick, magic/fantasy interpreted as either real/imagined—all these elements from reminded me heavily of other animated productions like “Coraline,” ‘Whispers of the Heart” and “The Polar Express.”

What separates “The Little Prince” from any other animated film is the breathtaking artwork. I believe every great animated film has that one moment of genius artistic expression that people point to as what makes that movie iconic, such as the furnace in “Toy Story 3” or the first test flight from “How To Train Your Dragon.” “The Little Prince” doesn’t have just one moment—it has one hundred minutes of moments. It’s creative, beautiful, mesmerizing—to be honest, I doubt any words I write here can do justice to the visual spectacle onscreen. There are subtle, technical movements like The Little Girl pushing a giant pile of pennies aside. There are simple, quiet motions like The Little Prince standing in the desert while the wind lightly waves his scarf. Then there are beautiful, awe-inspiring scenes like The Little Prince and The Little Girl standing before a glass container filled with millions of brilliant stars.

Is “The Little Prince” flawless? Heavens no. Sometimes the dialogue tries too hard to match the artistry of what is being seen and just comes off sounding cheesy. Sometimes the workings of both worlds (which are never explained) don’t make sense even for a fantasy/futuristic universe. But the emotions that I took away from it once the credits rolled were absolutely perfect. It’s poignant and bittersweet, tender without being softhearted, a film that is impossible to forget.

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