Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s novella Le Petit Prince is one of the most famous works of French literature of all time: a partially autobiographical fable about a pilot whose plane crashes in a desert, where he meets a small prince who has come to Earth as part of an adventure around the universe. Brought to life on page by the author’s watercolor illustrations, The Little Prince has been adapted countless times into a variety of different media, including radio plays, films, operas and even a graphic novel.
The next Little Prince adaptation to watch out for is the upcoming animated feature film from Kung Fu Panda director Mark Osborne, which frames the story of the aviator and the Little Prince with a modern day narrative in which the pilot, now an old man, bonds with an academically-minded little girl. The new trailer for The Little Prince, serenaded by Lily Allen’s cover of “Somewhere Only We Know”, is a tearjerker all by itself.
Although this trailer is entirely in French, the English language cast includes Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, James Franco, Marion Cotillard and young Mackenzie Foy (Interstellar) as the little girl. The animation uses a Pixar-esque CGI style in the “real world” and a stop-motion aesthetic when telling the aviator’s tale, but it looks like elements of the story will also be woven into the new narrative (for example, the little girl is seen holding a fox doll).
Screenwriter Irena Brignull recently co-wrote the script for Laika’s animated family adventure The Boxtrolls, and the film was made by French production company Onyx Films. Aside from the director and screenwriter this was an almost entirely French production, and The Little Prince will release in France first next fall. Though no US release date has yet been set, it wouldn’t be surprising if Paramount, the US distributor, ends up releasing it late in the year and pushing it for Oscar consideration.
Purists might call the addition of a framing device unnecessary, but The Little Prince is a difficult work to adapt; and offering a new spin on the story is a good way of giving this film its own unique perspective. If nothing else, it’s a beautiful looking film that’s definitely one to watch out for next year.
The Little Prince releases on October 7th, 2015 in France and will be in US theaters later in 2015.