I watch a lot of cartoons, not because I am an under developed man-child, but because my wee tiny girl is an over developed baby-boss. And if she wants to watch a cartoon, we’re watching a cartoon. I’ve been through them all, some great (Puss in Boots), some really bad (Peppa Pig, Pocoyo etc), but recently we watched a quite startling and beautiful story which I had never heard of until now.
It’s adapted from the storybook by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, a frenchman who was a bunch of creative things as well as a pioneering aviator. He ditched his plane in the desert during an air race. He fought during World War II, during which he went on a reconnaissance mission and disappeared, never to be seen again. During this time he wrote and illustrated a story called Le Petit Prince – The Little Prince.
The version I saw, on Netflix, is a 3D animation film which starts with a story about a tightly wound, but overworked single Mum trying to give her daughter the best start in life by getting her in to some big Academy, which also means moving in to a larger house in some gridified pristine suburb. She starts arranging her daughters life, and it’s her whole future life, into a neat pinboard system that the daughter can work through to give her the best shot at the interview, which will grant her entry to this Academy thus on to success. The daughter quickly gets fed up and starts to investigate around the new house and garden which is next to a bedraggled old house, within which resides a man whom we come to know as The Aviator – an old happy chappy with a half assembled plane in his garden.
A paper aeroplane is glided in to the girls bedroom one night, from the old man sitting on his telescope deck. The aeroplane, when unfolded, reveals the first page of Le Petit Prince, and marks the beginning of the story of The Little Prince in flashback, through the medium of stop motion animation.
It’s a beautiful way to separate the two stories, sharp smooth 3D for the present; tactile, honest stopframe for the past. I was captivated. Eva not so much, preferring to climb the back of the armchair whilst body-popping. But there I sat, glued to the TV watching it to the very end.
It’s on Netflix, and is voiced by a whole multitude of “I recognise that voice” actors, including Jeff Bridges, Ricky Gervais, Marion Cotillard and Paul Giamatti (one of my favourite thespians what-ho!).
I absolutely loved it.