I haven’t seen all of Netflix’s exclusive content, but The Little Prince is definitely among the best they have to offer. The Little Prince takes overused themes with overused characters and an overused story to bring us something so genuine it almost hurts. The Little Prince is sincerity at its finest, its real with every single emotion it is expressing and even though it takes on so many ideas, it never falters in tone or presentation. It proves that there is more to a story than the sum of its parts.
We’ve all heard the story of an uptight little girl and parent with the best intentions. They move and while the girl is trying her best to stick to what her parent have taught her, an unconventional old man comes in and opens the girls eyes to fun and wonder, while re-accounting a story the old man experienced in the past. Mind you this is only the first half of the movie. It’s predictable at every turn but it’s not trying to be unpredictable. Its trying to make you remember something.The Little Prince is told in a way where it speaks to parents and children about the same subject simultaneously. It’s also very self-insertive. With the movie going so far as to not give any of the characters actual names. I’m pretty sure this is to present the lack of individuality this world has. It also represent’s how when we grow up we are so defined by our titles that what we do replaces who we are.
The Little Prince’s narrative is pretty “by the book” up until an hour in. The story with the little girl and the old man/aviator mostly lasts about an hour with a two-minute conclusion at the end. Most movies that use this dynamic end up falling short and incorporating things that don’t really have anything to do with the story or sidetrack the themes. The Little Prince decides that its going to take the “Girl” (I have no idea what to call her besides that…) and test her against all the idea’s that she had been exploring. But it’s not her who develops surprisingly, it’s the Little Prince from the story, all grown up. The second half almost feels out-of-place but it has so many characters that we’ve already seen; so it grounds the situation even though the environment and whats going on doesn’t feel like the first half at all. What it does feel like though is a continuation of The Little Prince story that the girl was reading up until this point. By having context to how the boy see’s the grown ups from the other asteroids versus how he sees them now as an adult, it helps us understand exactly what our views can turn into and why we would rationalize them. (It is a little confusing as to why any of this happened, but I’m pretty sure The Little Prince was tricked by a snake or something) For the girl its a chance to help the Little Prince remember what he had forgotten in a very meta way.
There’s two endings to this movie, which feels right since there is two stories being told here. Like I said earlier there’s one for us adults and one for the kids. When the Little Prince gets back to his rose and finds out she’s dead, the message really hit home in a clear and concise way. The Little Prince knows that he can’t go back with things being the same. His rose is dead, but not forgotten. He doesn’t forget what he had before but can’t go back to it, and it doesn’t matter. He exists now instead of in the past with the memory of the rose and thus balances his life. The message for us is that we can do the same thing. There are things we forget and lose for no reason as adults. We can’t go back to those times but its important that we don’t forget them. Not just for ourselves, but for our kids so we can help them grow up. This is what being a parent is all about. Which is weird since the parent in this movie doesn’t really have this realization, it’s just us the audience. The girls resolution is that she can finally be herself and grow up without losing the things she had gained from the old man/aviator. He dies just like the Little Princes rose, but she’ll continue to cherish the things he showed her. By the end of the movie she has destroyed the idea of things needing to be essential, and redefined what essential means. Now essential doesn’t just have to mean progress, it is all the things that make you special and worthwhile. Its more of a blatant resolution but it’s for the kids to realize so it wouldn’t be as subversive as the Little Princes arc.
The way The Little Prince tells a story with it’s art designs is also very creative. While I don’t necessarily enjoy the CG Disney/Pixar character designs, I do like the worlds aesthetic and its contrast with The Little Prince story that the girl is reading. The real world is really gray and undersigned, in a way it’s very essential, nothing is added for flair or fun. But the story world is so lavish and the most simplistic things have life breathed into them. Not only that but it gives an idea of how the old man/aviator see’s his past. Then when in the movie’s second half it takes all the fairy tale paper mache character designs and brings them into the real world, the conflict of getting back what you lost feels more real and important because it’s not just something the character’s are feeling, us as viewers want it to go back to the way it was, to how it should be. Except for the Little Prince, he can stay a kid forever because space magic. Also the movies unexplained logic of the moving fox doll and the way asteroids are just floating in our atmosphere are never once brought up. It’s all just a matter of fact. I don’t know whether to call this lazy writing or symbolic of the way a child see’s a world versus an adult whose world view is already concrete. It all happened so fast and fit itself into the story I don’t really care either way. Also those insert songs were just the cutest thing I’ve ever heard. They made me want to cry so hard.
The Little Prince proves that you don’t need to have a new idea to mean something. It Just by telling its story with sincerity and broad appeal it can capture a wide net to hit all audiences. This is what the Disney Renaissance did in the early 90’s, and we all know how that worked out. The thing I like most about kids movies is when they can honestly admonish mistakes that adults make and give a kid guidance on how to be better. I’m a big fan of growth in the most literal sense and any film that is willing to embrace that idea and executes it with this level of quality, makes it a win for me. It’s on Netflix so go watch it now.
P.S. I wrote this before realizing that its based off a book adaptation, but decided to keep everything the same because I feel its irrelevant to the ultimate message.