Sometimes you don’t want to read, or our brain is too muddled, when this happens I watch movies based on books and pretend that someone is reading to me. First off, I'm not going to explaxin the plot of the little prince. If you haven't read 'The Little Prince' stop reading this, in fact stop whatever you are doing at all unless you're driving, of course (why are you reading blogs while driving?), and go read 'The Little Prince'. Are you back now? Good
I was all geared up to watch this movie shouting at my television. As much as I wanted to believe it was possible, I couldn’t imagine how a movie could capture my favorite space boy. I was not wrong. The movie preaches in a way that the book never did and paints allegory with a very thick brush. No child would stay interested in the story and no adult could sit through the songs without hiding behind the sofa, and not in a good way. We will talk about to the title character later. First for the peripherals:
Planetary: The other planets all have their own versions of adults and they are given very quick and quirky moments with the prince who is flown to and from by a flock of paper birds. None of the men are particularly memorable or well shot. They all quickly get to the point that children won’t understand ‘the important things’ and then we’re off. We see the King, the Accountant, the Historian, and General all singing about obsessing over very grown up things. Oh, I didn’t mention this is a musical, well it is, and although the songs are written by the same pair as My Fair Lady, none of them are very good but two are saved by their actors, (notably the fox and the snake). Sadly we miss the Watchman, the only adult whom I loved.
Terrestrial: Here on ‘dirt is it, or soil, I can never remember…no, no, Earth, that’s it!’ We have a snake, a fox, a pilot and at the beginning several grown ups who can’t tell a boa constrictor digesting and elephant from a hat.
The Pilot has the majority of the unfortunate songs, some sung while flying an old fighter jet Red Baron style, which is best described as ghastly. When not crooning, he’s sweet and very fragile so I am willing to forgive him. He’s the mix I had always pictured of gritty and angry and innocent with a touch of melancholy that I never saw before, probably because I was too young. Of course he also gets the only worthwhile song ‘I’ve never known a rose’ which is actually quite beautiful in the old Camelot way.
Bob Fosse himself(!) plays the snake and, while he can’t sing really, the man slithers and slides and is just so smarmy as to be the perfect snake. It’s best to watch this part on mute. He gives our little hero his escape route back to his planet with one sting ‘it’s practically painless’
After the snake comes the fox, to teach about being tame but in between the two is the saddest scene in the world. Sure I’m overly emotional right now, but I really did cry like a child in timeout for something he didn’t do. Le Petite Prince stumbles into a garden full of roses just like his. ‘I thought I had the most beautiful flower in existence, but all I had was a common rose and three volcanoes that come up to my knee, and one of them was extinct at that. That doesn’t make me a very great prince at all’.
Poor boy is a few steps away from becoming the accountant, worried more about owning than having and is saved only by our dear friend the fox played by Gene Wilder. In another cringe-worthy song the fox very thinly disguises love while obstencably singing about how to tame him. The whole disney moment is only made sweet by how fragile and skittish Mr. Wilder is. Eventually the Prince must leave the now tamed fox to look for a way back to his flower, which I’m going to have to say something about now.
The Rose: I was shocked I tell you Shocked at the Rose, not because she was bad, but because I never understood her before. She attracts our poor prince to her through beauty and then manipulates him into giving her whatever she wants and then she still complains. We don’t like her. She’s also not wearing a whole lot of clothes, but I can’t really explain that. I never really understood that the prince, a child in so many ways, leaves, without an excess of emotion, in order to flee his harpy of a flower only to find that he loves her and is willing to do all she asks because of it. Make of that what you will.
Le Petit Prince: He looks just as I want him to, he sounds (except for the singing child tragedies that really aren’t his fault) just as I would like, and he cries so perfectly. All in all I love him and he feels nothing like a child and nothing like a grownup. He is wise and loving and knows exactly what is important and can see sheep through the holes in a box drawing. He understands only the most important things and ignores the rest.
The Little Price should perhaps have stayed on the beautiful pages of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and it remains one of the best books to read when you are feeling a little too much like a grownup who talks ‘only of the weather and stock market and neckties’. And of course, if anyone were ever to call you ‘a very reasonable fellow’ by all means dive right in.