The Little Prince Movie Opens August 5

littleprinceBased on the beloved book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince is an animated feature that will be released on Netflix and in select theaters simultaneously this Friday, August 5. Using both CGI and stop motion animation (using paper and clay in different scenes), the film brings the story to modern audiences by nesting it inside a new story.

A Little Girl, voiced by Mackenzie Foy (famous for playing the love child of a vampire and a human in Twilight: Breaking Dawn), strives to live up to her Single Mom’s exacting standards, hopping out of bed right on time and keeping to a rigorous schedule of study and exercise, all in preparation for her first day at a new school in an industrious town of workers, where every house looks the same. Except one. Their neighbor, The Aviator, lives in a quirky treehouse-like home next door, where he tinkers with his old airplane and eventually makes friends with The Little Girl. She is curious and entertained by his story about a Little Prince he met a long time ago, so she gradually gives up on her schedule and simply plays and explores like a regular child.

As The Aviator relates his tale to the Little Girl, the pair grows closer, but of course, in their tidy world such things cannot last. Single Mom gets wind of their unusual relationship and forbids it. The Aviator grows older and gets ill. But bolstered by the wonders of the story, the Little Girl takes matters into her own hands, refusing to believe that the Little Prince is no longer out there.

mackenzie foy mark osborne

Actor Mackenzie Foy and director Mark Osborne at press interview for The Little Prince

Director Mark Osborne (Kung Fu Panda) assembled a star-studded cast, with Jeff Bridges as The Aviator, Rachel McAdams as the Mother, and a long list of other noteworthy names playing the friends that the Little Prince encounters on his trip around the cosmos. The Little Prince himself is voiced by the director’s son, Riley Osborne, whose scratch tracks proved remarkably perfect for the feeling the filmmaker wanted to create. Riley is 15 now, but he was 11 when the voices were recorded, and even in foreign-language versions of the movie, the boy’s voice remains. For Osborne, who spent many years working on this film, that captured laughter is a gift that will last.

I took my own children (little Princes, themselves) to see a screening of the movie, and I recommend you go see it in the theater if you can. It’ll be great to replay it on Netflix, but the experience of seeing a film in a theater is so special and grand, and The Little Prince is visually beautiful. On the big screen you will be able to see details that you might look for on repeated viewings at home – one that caught my eye was that the pages of the Aviator’s story are written in French. Osborne told me that was a nod to the French heritage of the book – he actually hired a forger to copy de Saint-Exupéry’s handwriting so that it could be recreated in animation.

The film is also very moving, emotionally. Touching on themes of friendship, love, and loss, the movie made me more than a little bit teary, and when I looked over at my kids I saw at least one of them wiping a tear away, too. If you haven’t had the chance to read The Little Prince to or with your kids, this is a great opportunity to get to know the story together, and then dive into the text to get a deeper level of appreciation for this classic title.

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