Netflix is home to a lot of great animated content. Finding Dory will arrive in February, while Zootopia and Kung Fu Panda 3 anchor an already strong library.
You’ve probably heard of those movies, but my guess is you’ve never heard of The Little Prince, a film that easily goes toe-to-toe with the best from Disney and DreamWorks.
I won’t judge you for not discovering it sooner because I hadn’t heard of it until last week. I must admit, I dropped the ball on this hidden gem. After watching it over weekend, why it isn’t more popular is beyond me.
Director Mark Osbourne, who directed Kung Fu Panda, brings to life Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s french novel Le Petit Prince with all the heart and whimsical storytelling that is reminiscent of past Pixar masterpieces like Up and Inside Out. It utilizes Pixar’s perfected recipe of beautiful animation and mature story content to make a worthwhile movie. It goes beyond the expected child-focused material and delves deeper into what it means to grow up.
Anchored by its beautiful hybrid animation and important story, The Little Prince reaches a new depth of quality storytelling that is rarely seen from animated movies outside of Pixar.
The Little Prince follows a character known only as the Little Girl. In fact, every character in the movie is only known by who their character literally is (i.e. Mom, Aviator, Little Prince). Her interests don’t involve fun or toys or friends. She instead channels her energy into preparing the best scholastic journey towards becoming the perfect adult. This focus is heavily pushed upon her by her Mom (voiced by Rachel McAdams), who has carved out a “Life Plan” to achieve this goal by mapping out every hour of every day of every week of every year. Needless to say, it’s an intense plan.
One day, while studying, Little Girl visits her neighbor, a retired Aviator, and they form a surprising friendship. His free-spirited personality slowly begins to breathe new life into the Little Girl’s mundane existence. Their friendship begins to draw her interest away from studying and into being a normal kid. Every day she visits the Aviator, he tells her a portion of the story of the Little Prince, whom he met in the Sahara desert.
The Little Prince lives on a small planet that he cares for. While tending to it, he plants a seed that grows into a beautiful Rose (Marion Cotillard) whom he falls in love with. This love is not meant to be, as they grow apart because they don’t know how to love each other, so he runs away. He begins to visit other planets where he meets a Conceited Man (Rickey Gervais), a Businessman (Albert Brooks) and a King (Bud Cort), all of whom are more concerned with vanity, money and power. Eventually, the Little Prince makes his way to Earth and where roams through the Sahara desert and meets the Aviator.
To tell the two parallel stories, the movie uses a blend of computer and stop-motion animation that beautifully juxtaposes both worlds. The stop-motion animation uses a paper-like texture to bring the Little Prince to life from the Aviator’s drawings. It’s a gorgeous effect that lets the viewer know every time a flashback scene begins.
The Aviator’s story of the Little Prince turns out to be a cautionary tale about the dangers of growing up. “Growing up is not the problem, forgetting is,” the Aviator responds when the Little Girl begins to lament aging. It is through this story that the Little Girl is able to find a balance between accepting her future adulthood and never letting go of her child-like wonder.
The Little Prince is fantastic movie that should have received much more attention than it did. Its fragmented release cycle may have played role in burying this hidden gem, but now it’s safely snuggled in the friendly confines of Netflix. Next time you’re endlessly searching something to watch on the service, check it out. You’ll be glad you gave The Little Prince a shot.