The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is beautiful in its simplicity, and full of philosophical ideas, but its animated adaptation sends the viewer on a gorgeous visual journey through the many truths that the book only whispered in our ears as children. In the delightful realm of hyperbolic storytelling, the movie brings to light the ways in which de Saint-Exupéry wanted to assure children that they were indeed smarter than adults made them feel (and to remind adults of those truths so often lost along the way to adulthood). He reveals how silly it is that boring adults value empty things like numbers, owning many somethings, and memorizing facts that don't have any intrinsic value to the most important part of ourselves: our hearts.
The movie (that uses a mix of CGI animation, and a cut out paper stop-motion technique) was originally scheduled for release in theaters in the US in March 2016, but Paramount dropped it, silently and without a concrete explanation. It has been shown in 50 other countries, and translated into 10 other languages. While this news shocked director Mark Osbourne, he didn't give up, and eventually, Netflix agreed to release it in August.
The main character in the movie, the Little Girl (who is only named by the role she plays, which is the way the characters are named in the book), spends the first of her summer getting ready for prep school with the intensely detailed schedule her mother (voiced by Rachel McAdams) sets up to help her become the perfect adult. The Little Girl is very serious about this goal, until The Pilot flies a paper airplane into her bedroom window. The paper is a page of The Little Prince, and it interrupts her studies, with an invitation for friendship. This first invitation is rejected, but after she reads the the beginning of the story, her curiosity gets the better of her, and she and The Pilot go on many adventures. Through these adventures, The Little Girl is taught the beautiful lessons that The Pilot learned from The Little Prince.
One of the most prominent themes the story explores is the value of friendship. The Little Prince — the movie and the book, reminds us that friends come in all shapes, and all sizes. They also come in all ages, and all forms (an old man, a little boy, a fox, a rose). The symbols used here are both human and anthropomorphic, which symbolizes that friendship can be found in the most surprising ways. When I was forced out of the closet by a Christian Community, I found friends in the most unexpected circles, and my mind and my heart were widened to become more accepting of everyone, as I became more accepting of myself. The Little Prince book further taught me this, by weaving together the beautiful relationships between the Pilot and the Prince, the Prince and the Rose, and how the Fox taught the Prince (and therefore the Pilot) that we are all responsible for those that we tame. This is the author's way of cleverly expressing that when we form attachments, or friendships, we become both a giver and receiver of tender love and care for that relationship.
Not only we do have a responsibility for those we form bonds with, but The Little Prince teaches us that there is always a possibility that we will not always get the pleasure of being with the ones with whom we've formed these bonds. The movie highlights this in more ways than the book: everyone's life changes, and whether we move, or they pass away to go on their next adventure, we have the capacity to feel a dichotomy of sadness and happiness. In the movie, The Pilot misses his Little Prince, but he is comforted by the stars and how they remind him of his special friend's laugh. The Little Prince taught him this, because The Fox (voiced by James Franco) taught the Little Prince that once we have been tamed, we can make connections to seemingly simple things (like the wheat that reminds the Fox of the Little Prince’s hair) and in this way, the person becomes unique in our world because of the time we have shared together in our friendship.
What is so beautiful about the movie, is that it provides a deeper, more practically applied meaning to many of the themes the book originally portrayed with such subtlety. I'm grateful this movie was created, so that maybe adults who read it as kids, and have forgotten, or the people who read it as adults and didn't quite get it, can finally understand how meaningless it is to put value in only the things that we can see. Because as the Fox reminds us: "One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes."