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First off, if this film looks familiar to you, it's probably because some of its stop-motion team did the video for "The Rifle's Spiral". That was the first thing I noticed when I saw the cover and the credits revealed that there was indeed an overlap.
That being said, this movie is odd. I think any viewer ought to know beforehand that this is an adaptation about the book, not wholly of it. The real story is about a girl whose life is changed by meeting the book's Aviator narrator and hearing his story, and The Little Prince itself is told mostly in bites of fascinating narrated stop-motion that I really wanted more of. The rest of the film is about how the girl learns from the story, and it's both good and clever and maybe a bit destructive. The fact that the film ends up teaching the book in a way eliminates the experience of thinking about the story, and there is further exploration into the story's world that may feel harmful to the ending tone of the book. All the same, it's often clever how the girl's world is inserted into the Prince's setting, and her own story is a compelling modern satire on the book's themes of petty adulthood. She lives with a mother who keeps an extremely regimented life and has planned out her daughter's with an insane schedule, which the Aviator challenges with whimsy and emotion and his book, all while she has to learn about death through the book's story. And while not subtle in its connection, the blending of her world and the Prince's was the most exciting and funny part of the movie.
The storybook animation, again, was fun and mixed the drawn style of the book with a 3D equivalent in stop-motion and paper effects. The potential of this animation didn't feel met due to its limited use, but the real-world CGI was competent and the direction and shots is overall nice. I definitely would have preferred a full adaptation of the book, but this one was still nice and not a waste of time.
I will say it right now: this animated adaptation of The Little Prince is a timeless masterpiece, an intelligently told story full of innocent charm.
I don't really know how to sum up everything I liked about this movie. There's obvious stuff, like the really good CGI animation coupled with some very interesting and really well made stop motion segments; the bond that the Girl and the Aviator manage to create; the Framing Device that contrasts the actual story of the book and the oddness of the Aviator with the harsh, strictly by-the-letter behavior of the world around them; the fact that deep down, the Mother really does care about her daughter, despite what her actions may suggest; and I especially love how everything from the story and even certain elements from the Framing Device come together to create a really awesome climax.
Another thing I love is how the message of the movie, even though it's stated a few times by the Aviator, isn't shoved in your face; in fact, I actually initially believed that the movie might have presented its message not well enough, and that it instead ended up saying that adhering to any rules or planning your life is always bad, and that you should only concentrate on your dreams no matter what. But actually no; it does show that taking this route is also bad, since the Aviator does get in trouble by doing so. In fact, the correct answer (taking steps to plan your future and adhering to rules isn't a bad thing, forgetting your dreams and childlike wonder is) is very subtly shown in the very last scene of the movie.
One of my biggest complaints about the movie would be that the ending feels insufficiently long - the aforementioned scene lasts a grand total of about 10 seconds and feels almost like an afterthought, especially considering that it pops up a brief moment after the credits start rolling. I feel that it would have worked a lot better if they added 2 or so extra scenes like this to work as an epilogue of sorts.
Another complaint is that, while the movie for the most part makes a wonderful job adapting the book, there are times where it fails to explain certain parts of the story well enough. Most are rather minor, but there's also a few bigger ones; for instance, the motivation behind the snake, which is shown as more antagonistic in the movie, whereas in the book he was more merciful in his intent, which also explained why the Prince agreed to his offer. There's also the well scene, which in the book serves as a reminder of the whole "taming a fox" thing, this time in regards to the Aviator, but in the movie, this part is almost glanced over and completely lacks its meaning.
These, however, are minor complaints, and the movie is still a wonderful experience worth recommending to anyone interested in an intelligent, well crafted piece of cinema that people of any age can enjoy.
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