Went to the movie theater for the first time to see this wonderful French film. If you’ve read my other film critiques, you’d know I’m fair, if not, a little harsh. And to be honest, this was one of the best animated films I’ve seen in my life.
Before I delve into the movie review, I want to tell you about French movies and the entertainment industry. Obviously, this movie was not made by a French film company, but rather an American one. Before I had arrived in France, I had wrongly presumed that the French film industry was large, based off the Cannes Film Festival. Well, no. No European country has a movie or music industry has large as the American industries. So a lot of the popular films here (as well as the songs) are American and dubbed into the native language of the country.
Annoying, but whatever.
The good thing is that this movie is animated, so I actually couldn’t tell it was originally in English. Le Petit Prince is a French story, so it was reasonable to think otherwise. Other than that, my experience in a French movie theatre was very different. One, you can buy your popcorn/candy when you buy your tickets, which really just saves a bunch of random space: why have 2 counters when you can just have 1? Two, the popcorn is so much better because all the food here is healthier, even the junk food. There’s a little more salt, but a LOT less butter, which I could have praised the food gods for. Also, considering this is a children’s movie, there are funny moments. Not uproariously hilarious, but funny and cute. Weird thing is that in France, nobody really laughs, except for the babies. So it was just us, the group of Americans in the front shoving popcorn in our mouths, laughing every 5 minutes.
Anyway…time for the actual movie review. By the way, I watched this in French!!
There’s something very beautiful about this film, and if I could point fingers, it would be at every single scene.
1. Le Petit Prince. So this movie is sort of an expanded version of the original French story of “Le Petit Prince.” (btw…just found out what I’m going to get some people for Christmas – this book is released in English, too, cough cough). The original story really centers around the narrator who recounts a meeting with a little prince. I can’t exactly say the entirety of the plot because that’s going to waste my time, but I can state a few things. The narrator, when he was younger, drew a picture of an elephant being eaten by a snake. But when he showed it to adults, they said it just looked like a hat. However, when he showed it to le petit prince, a boy from a foreign planet of his own, he understood exactly what the narrator was trying to draw. When le petit prince asked for him to draw a sheep, the narrator drew many versions of sheep, but le petit prince only liked one of the pictures, which was of a brick box.
You can see how the imagination can fluctuate. Le Petit Prince was a character who really encouraged the use of the mind to think (literally) outside of the box. We get stuck in what society tells us is what that we forget to use our own minds to decide what is and what is not.
The movie is a little different. The industry added on another story where a little girl who is pressured to grow up (she’s looks like she’s 10) meets the narrator when he is much older. They work on his airplane as he tells her about the stories of le petit prince. And trust me: the little gist I just summed up above is a very small part. The story’s fairly easy to understand and it was good for learning tenses when I started learning French. There’s a little bit added after le petit prince disappears off the face of the earth, and they give more of a concrete ending than what is revealed in the book.
I liked it a lot. Perhaps not always the original, but the purpose of adding another story line really built the purpose of the theme behind the story.
2. So Simple. Which makes it better. The best way to think out of the box is to not think outside of the box. The best way to think of the most complicated things is to not think about complicate things. This goes for almost everything in life. The more we overthink, the more we over-create and the more off we are from everything. The way the story is told is through the attitude of a child whose imagination can spin circles around all the adults in the world put together. It is simply a boa constrictor eating an elephant. It is simply a sheep in a brick box.
And even the simplest things are the most special things. For example, if you get a ring from your favorite grandmother who has just passed away, that thing is damn special to you. Yet, perhaps the next day, you see another girl on the street wearing the same ring as you. And the same thing happens every day as more people start to wear the same ring. Does that mean the meaning of your ring is no longer special? Of course not, and it’s because you’ve “tamed” it. You’ve built a relationship with it, a meaning behind it. It’s not the object or the people we make relationships with that count. It’s the relationships themselves that matter in life.
3. Children Can Be Smarter than Adults. Being a child is different from thinking like a child. You can be an adult and still act like a child. And perhaps child-like isn’t the right word, but rather imaginative and creative. Adults seem to always feel like they have to go to college,
get a job, build a retirement plan, and then die. But what kind of life is that?
Well, it’s the life of every adult. Well, almost every adult. No wonder nobody wants to fucking grow up. And that was part of the movie theme: we’re always being constantly pushed to grow up when there really isn’t a great reason as to why we are in such a hurry. If anything, being a grown up sucks because you can’t see the beauty in life. Maybe you see practicality and logic, but isn’t it possible to see all three? The beauty, the practicality, and the logic?
4. The French Way of Life. I noticed a very strong cultural tie between the themes of this movie and how the French live their lives. The story of Le Petit Prince questions the purpose of adulthood. Yes, you’re supposed to have “goals,” but even then it seems as if adults don’t have goals. They’re just running back and forth, trying to find where they want to go when actually they have no idea what they’re doing. Pretending that you’re doing something right is completely different from actually doing something right.
Today I was walking in the centre-ville and I noticed that there really isn’t a sense of direction here in France. When I say that, I mean nobody really walks on the right or the left side of the road, unless they’re driving which is to avoid being killed. People just kind of mosey around in random directions and sometimes they run into each other in which they just jump out of the way right before they clash. (pst, this may be why they’re so skinny…walking a shit ton does that to you). But I was wondering, “It’s 10am…don’t you people have places to be? Like work?” Well, yeah, but what’s the rush?
In America, we walk with purpose. Here, they walk with, well, no purpose. Talk, smoke a cigarette, eat a baguette. What’s the hurry? Why can’t you just enjoy what’s around you instead of rushing through it to get to a destination you’re dreading to be at anyway?
And to be fair, the French have got a point.