The Little Prince full movie review - some thoughts on reviews, on people's reactions, and very light spoilers
After reading many many reviews of this film, I've noticed that the people who didn't like this movie are people who are big fans of the book.
And I mean "big fans", because most people who did review the movie have read the book; but the people who rated it very low are the ones who really LOVE the book. The common complaint is that stylistically and tonally (tonally? ._. is that a word?) it's not very similar, and that that way, it undermines the spirit of the original, which I sort of agree with. But I think this is a little unfair as, to a certain extent, movies should be judged as a stand-alone. For the same reason, a movie based off a book is not a terrible movie just because the work it was based on was terrible. Films don't get plot-hole passes for the "this was explained in the book" excuse, because the movie should stand by itself. Movies in many cases should be able to be watched on their own, and In this movie this is especially crucial and I'll get to that later.
If you're a REALLY big little prince fan, I don't know what you might think, and maybe I can even say you probably won't like it. It does take elements/themes from the book, but they are not really treated the same way as in the book. And it's nowhere near as tragic as the book (actually, every little prince adaptation I've seen has never been as tragic as the novel and I'll also get to why later).
I realized if you see this movie as a movie with the Little Prince book as a *big element* of this film, and not really as an *adaptation* of the book itself, it's a very good film. The movie is not really about the little prince, it's about the little girl. The film is centered around the little girl reading the book and how it connects with her own life, thus it becomes her own story. She's a daughter of a mother who puts her through this "life plan" to ensure she goes to a great school to have a great future. That doesn't sound too bad in retrospect, but she's just a child; and as the little girl begins reading the book, she starts to evaluate what she really thinks is essential. To the businessman, money is essential. To the man selling the pills (in the book), time was essential. And to the girl's mother, her grades are essential, and everything else are non-essential things that are only done as absolutely necessary. As the movie goes on and it becomes clear that the aviator is using the story to help the girl cope with his impending death, the little girl begins to realize that being a great grown-up is not composed of what the grown ups impose on her.
I would say that emotionally it's not a very intense film. There are some moments that might make you cry, but the movie is either too subtle or too in-your-face to have that big family-animated film tearjerker moment that makes the theatre cry. It's a very gentle movie even though there is a big climax, and I also think this might be the reason why so many audiences saw the film as emotionally kind of weak.
And here we get to why this movie is never able to hit as hard as the book: I have never seen a little prince adaptation that included the epilogue of the book (the part where the aviator realizes he never drew the muzzle correctly) even though I have always personally considered it a really essential part of the story. In the book the pilot draws a sheep for the prince to eat the baobab sprouts, but also promises to draw a muzzle and a little fence for it to ensure it will not also eat the rose. In the epilogue, The pilot realizes that the sheep he drew may or may not eat the rose on the little prince's planet, and because of this sometimes the stars are laughing, but sometimes they are crying; but he will never really know the truth (and no grown-up will ever see why it is important). The aviator also wonders if they'll ever see each other again, but these questions are never answered in the novel and this is also why it cannot have a sequel, because in reality we don't really know if he is happy back on his planet, and the not-knowing is the big thing here. In the movie they straight out answer these questions because she's able to finally meet the little prince and find out what happened to him after he left. In the context of the film of how the girl is making her own ending to cope with the idea of death, it's not bad, but in comparison with the novel's ending it feels very sugarcoated, and it gets a bit too complicated thematically (especially considering the implication that outer- space = the afterlife in the novel and in the movie it's used as both that AND a "growing up" thing).
It's not a perfect adaptation of the book, maybe not even a good one, but it is still a beautiful movie. If people watched the film with not with lower or lighter expectations, but with different ones, I feel like it would have been received very differently by the die hard fans. I am SO excited for the upcoming Netflix release. It really feels like America is the centre of the world if I can't really find any English- language talk about the movie anywhere on the vast internet (I was able to see it because Canada seems to be the only English-language release of this film?). And of course the Hans Zimmer music is so so wonderful.