MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
On Netflix Streaming
Directed by Mark Osborne. Animated Feature
I am well aware that most of my readers do not subscribe to streaming services for movies, but perhaps you ought to consider making the move in the near future; I estimate that only about 10% of the films currently being produced will make their way to the multiplex screens. If you are at all interested in anything beyond big budget spectacles, comic book franchises, and frat boy comedies, you need to upgrade your home Wi-Fi and begin streaming movies at home.
Case in point: The Little Prince.
This lovely film may be the best animated feature in 2016. It won the César Award (France’s Academy Award) for Best Animated Film and earned over $100 million internationally. It features an all-star voice cast including Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams and Paul Rudd. Paramount Pictures purchased distribution rights after the movie was screened at the Cannes Film Festival but then decided to do nothing. Netflix came to the rescue, so there you have it. If you want to see The Little Prince you need to have Netflix.
The story of the little prince who rules over Asteroid B-612, cares for a rose and makes friends with a fox first came to life in a lovely little illustrated children’s book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, written in 1943. The book has sold over 140 million copies and has been read in countless High School French classes. It is many things: a light social satire, a celebration of flight (the author was a famous world pilot), and an allegory about love. It’s told in the first person by an aviator who is stranded in the desert and meets the boy from the stars.
This modern version incorporates most of the book as a story-within-a-story. We meet The Little Girl (Mackenzie Foy) who is growing up in a single-parent home in which The Mother (McAdams) is grooming her for success. In addition to many hours at home devoted to study, they move to an upscale neighborhood so that the girl can enroll in the prestigious Werth Academy. One day when the mother is at work, the girl meets The Aviator (Bridges), an eccentric old man who lives next door, wears aviator goggles and tries to get his old airplane to function. He tells her stories about friendship and adventure, inviting her to discover a new world that cannot be found in doing sums. She learns such aphorisms as “Growing up is not the problem, forgetting is” and (the most quoted line from the book) “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
The movie combines computer and stop motion animation in seamless and beautiful ways and the film is a feast of bright colors and lovely music. In the original book (and the underrated 1974 musical film) the theme of death is introduced. While this version has hints of mortality, it softens the theme in a way that is quite lovely and less upsetting to younger children. (The 1974 film was rated G!)
There’s nothing more that I want to say, since there are wonderful surprise twists and delights in store. Move this one to the top of your list and discover its joys for yourself.
Five halos. A beautiful celebration of imagination.
One pitchfork: For intimations of mortality.
Do you have comments about this movie or movie review? E-mail your comments. (Comments will be posted to our web site.)
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
COMMENTS! Do you have comments about this movie or movie review?
E-mail comments. (Comments will be posted to our web site.)
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