Thoughts about the movie: The Little Prince
When I was 11 years old, I got to read ‘The Little Prince’ by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and it had a very profound impact on me and the way I viewed the world. And so when I caught the trailer for the French-produced movie: The Little Prince (French: Le Petit Prince), I had goosebumps. I felt like 11 again, and hearing those words of wisdom that moved me still move me. I knew I had to catch that movie.
It was obvious from the trailer that this was not a straight-up adaptation of the book. It was clear that it was set in a present time, about a kid with a Type A mom, who then meets a peculiar neighbor. This kid’s life is pretty-much planned and structured. But her whole life changes when they move to a new house and she meets her next door neighbor – an old man, who used to be a pilot. And that he would be the one to narrate the story of The Little Prince.
In the first 20 minutes or so, the movie has successfully interwoven the ‘modern day’ woes of grown-ups, and the original tale of The Little Prince presented in a stop-motion sequence. You can appreciate the juxtaposition of the ‘grown-up world’ where everything is scheduled and measured, as opposed to childlike spontaneity, curiosity, and joy that The Little Prince in the story of the next-door-old-man/pilot.
But I felt that much of the highlights of what made the story of The Little Prince so moving was lost because of this multi-layered approach to storytelling. We were not able to appreciate the time and care that The Little Prince gave his ‘flower’ and how that has made him love her – and even the taming process of the fox moved by so quickly. The viewer did not have enough time, or did not hear enough dialogue and clever words to connect with the relationship of the Little Prince with the flower or the fox.
Yes, we get our serving of “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye,” but we totally lost the gist of the quote “It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important” – because the entire sequence between the Prince and his rose went by in less than a minute. And thus, when it came for the Prince to tell the other roses:
“You’re beautiful, but you’re empty…One couldn’t die for you. Of course, an ordinary passerby would think my rose looked just like you. But my rose, all on her own, is more important than all of you together, since she’s the one I’ve watered. Since she’s the one I put under glass, since she’s the one I sheltered behind the screen. Since she’s the one for whom I killed the caterpillars (except the two or three butterflies). Since she’s the one I listened to when she complained, or when she boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing at all. Since she’s my rose.” – We just don’t get it because we never saw the Prince manage caterpillars or sit patiently while the rose kept talking about herself.
At the beginning, it was clear that when the sequence is in stop-motion (meaning, the old man was narrating) we were supposed to suspend our disbelief – but when real world comes in, we were supposed to reflect. But the lines became blurry towards the end when ‘real life’ meets the characters of The Little Prince situated in real life. The story became a bit dragging, you couldn’t wait for it to end.
I would think that if you never read the book, you’d probably get lost in the story. And so while I had originally planned to let my younger cousins watch this before they read the book, I changed my mind. They have to read the book for them to appreciate the movie. And if they read the book, they needn’t see the movie. Although I will admit that it was a visual feast and it had some moments that tug the heart, it has no significant value added to one’s experience of the story.
I must say, no screen adaptation has disappointed me much in the recent years as this. And that, is sad… so let me now read the book again and remember the story the way it had endeared itself to me.