“I thought you could use a friend,” says the Aviator as he flew a folded paper plane into the little girl’s window and into her life. An unusual friendship forms between the two unnamed characters with stark differences. There is the elderly Aviator whose eyes still sparkle with dreams and the little girl whose cookie-cutter world consists only of the color grey.
Director Mark Osborne incorporates three distinct animation styles (CG, stop-motion and paper cutout animation) to bring the same “delicate and poetic” elements from the pages – he stated, to life. This film adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s novella of the same title portrays the original story in a different narrative. The plot is retold through a flashback with quaint stop-motion animation that perfectly captures the essence of The Little Prince.
For most of us, growing up is accompanied with the loss of our childish whims. Even so, does that mean the wonders of the world are only for children? I believe the answer is no for most of you reading this (myself included); it takes courage to live and dream the way we would as children.
“Growing up is not the problem, forgetting is.”
The little girl, when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, couldn’t think of an answer. She plans every minute of her life to maximize efficiency. Nothing has been left to chance, or for her to discover on her own. To her, the Aviator was a literal plethora of colours in her world of grey. He pulls her into his world of wonders with the story of the little prince – which they spend all summer on. As the audience, we get to follow the little girl on her journey of discovering life and everything that it could be. All for the first time. It serves as a little reminder of how we used to gaze upon the stars; listening for the laugh of a little prince, almost as if we are the little girl.
“What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well. The stars are beautiful because of a flower that cannot be seen.”
When we were children, stories about a hidden treasure box or a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow were exciting, no? And as we believed in those stories we added our own tweaks and created our own version of wondrous tales. We never found them because real treasures are seen with the heart. It’s so simple it’s almost foolish, but what we look for in life is what meaning we give to it. For the little prince, it was his rose that was unique in all the world. For the little girl, it was the friend that she found in the Aviator. To her, losing the Aviator means losing the world they share together.
As she watches the sunrise after a long night of adventure with the little prince, she comes to a realisation; she will always have the Aviator. When she sees yellow in the sun or a wandering kite, she will be reminded of his crooked smile, remembering the words of the little prince: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry dedicates the story of the little prince to his best friend and confidant: “for Leon Werth, the little boy that was.” The film, however, is a gentle nudge to wake the sleeping child in all of us, a memoir of our young and wide-eyed selves. There is wisdom in what we consider to be childish truths. They are never lost, we just forget them – and when we do, the little prince will be there to remind us once again. I will leave you with a question for you to ponder on:
When did you stop looking up at the night sky for stars?
Written by Sofea Balqish.