This has been a year of many things: political turmoil, terrorist attacks, the Olympics. But the one thing it hasn’t been a year for is movies. I can already hear fans screaming – What about “Captain America: Civil War”? “Finding Dory”? “Deadpool”? “Zootopia”? “Ghostbusters”?
While I’ll admit that a few were entertaining, no film this year had me fully enraptured. The cinema of 2016 has been a slew of reboots, sequels, and semi-original ideas that did little more than introduce weakly developed characters with an all-star cast and drag them through an ill-conceived plot to gain profits through trademark characters. As 2016 draws to a close, the one film that stands as an exception is “The Little Prince.”
A story originally written by Antoine de Saint Exupery, “The Little Prince” is a critically acclaimed masterpiece that should be shown in theaters everywhere (but inconceivably isn’t). A story within a story, a little girl (voiced by Mackenzie Foy) meets an eccentric aviator (Jeff Bridges) and learns about his experiences with the Little Prince (Riley Osborne), a boy who lived on a planet scarcely bigger than himself. Though the girl starts out wanting to be a perfect grown-up by following grown-up expectations, she realizes that a life where childhood is forgotten is not a life worth living.
While the story’s main message is “What is essential is invisible to the eye,” the movie has stunning visuals that somehow manage to be incredibly simple yet hauntingly beautiful. Delicate as crepe paper, the animation fits the theme like no other method of movie-making could, with an amazing array of characters, buildings, and backdrops. The awe-inspiring backgrounds, enhanced by the phenomenal soundtrack by Hans Zimmer and Richard Harvey, featuring the French singer Camille, create a euphoric experience. The music accentuates all the right emotions at the right moments.
If that wasn’t enough, the film splashes a large dose of creativity in the third act, where it reaches its emotional peak in a climax so unexpected, even a longtime Little Prince devotee like me was surprised – and pleasantly so. Though I’m usually averse to movies adding extra scenes to the original material, “The Little Prince” adaptation flows gently from scene to scene, as natural and free as the simple joys of childhood.
All in all, though “The Little Prince” is framed as a movie about children for children, it’s really for everyone, young and old. As the aviator says, “Growing up isn’t the problem. Forgetting is.”
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.