December 4, 2015
I remember the book "The Little Prince" from my younger days. I admit I was not really a total devotee of this story like some people I know. I found it interesting but I did not remember much about it after reading. I know some fans can recite quotable quotes from this book by heart. My interest in the book was revived last year when I watched a play by Tanghalang Pilipino entitled "Prinsipe Munti" (MY REVIEW). Watching this play as an adult made me realize how profound the messages of the author Antoine de Saint-Exupery really were.
This year, an animated version of this story by a French production company makes it to our local theaters. The beloved characters of de Saint-Exupery were not the main characters of this film. The central story was about a little 9-year old girl who led a regimented life set by her domineering mother. The girl got curious with the eccentric old man who lived next door who was trying to get his dilapidated old airplane to fly again. The old man told her stories about an Aviator and his friendship with Little Prince, which inspired the girl to break free from the strict schedules that controlled her life.
The fantastic artwork is its best feature of this special film. The delicate figures in the actual Little Prince vignettes are the most beautifully-crafted of all. Those little wood and paper hand-crafted figurines were so exquisitely brought to life. Even quiet scenes like the prince's scarf blowing in the wind or the little fox curled up with the prince were among the most memorably moving for me.
It is just a pity that these whimsical parts were not the whole film. The artwork for the little girl and mother scenes were more conventional and familiar. These scenes were all in drab greys and black to starkly contrast it with the magical world of the Little Prince. The action-adventure scenes of the girl were exciting and lively, just right to entertain the younger members of the audience who may find the poetic and philosophical parts of the film too slow for their short attention span or too deep for their limited understanding. I did like the blurring of lines between reality and fantasy which I thought added an interesting dimension to the storytelling.
The voice cast is stellar, with Jeff Bridges as the Aviator, Rachel McAdams as the Mother, Paul Rudd as Mr. Prince, James Franco as the Fox, Marion Cotillard as the Rose, Benicio del Toro as the Snake, Paul Giamatti, Ricky Gervais, Bud Cort and Albert Brooks as the various people the little heroes meet on their adventures. Mackenzie Foy ("Interstellar" and "The Conjuring") gives the Little Girl spunk and spirit. Riley Osborne gave the Little Prince a gentle ethereal voice that will tug at your heartstrings.
Being a European film, fans of Disney-Pixar or Dreamworks animated features may find the stop-motion animation and slow pace of the storytelling something to get used to at first. However, I trust that the beauty of the art and animation will eventually draw even the most cynical fan in. I do not like some of the scenes with Little Girl and Mother or with the Old Aviator because they may send wrong signals to young audiences. Otherwise, "The Little Prince" is a must-see film for its remarkable artistry as an animated feature film. 9/10.