The Little Prince (1974)

Article 5014 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 12-10-2015
Directed by Stanley Donen
Featuring Richard Kiley, Steven Warner, Joss Ackland
Country: UK / USA
What it is: Allegorical fantasy musical.

A pilot, his child-like sense of wonder squashed when he was young, becomes stranded in the Sahara desert. There he encounters a little prince from a distant planet, whose confusion about his love for a rose causes him to set out to learn about the world.

I’ve not read the fanciful novel on which this movie was based, so I can’t make any comparison as to how successful it has been adapted. I do sense, however, that the choice to make this a musical was a compromise to compensate for the fact that the book may have been unfilmable. I remember when it was released, but I don’t recall it having been a big hit. One of the user comments on IMDB ponders as to why this movie has never become a perennial children’s favorite, but I suspect the reason it hasn’t is because it really isn’t a children’s movie; it’s central themes seem to be of more interest to adults. My wife, who has read the book, also told me that there is a dark undercurrent to the book that is lost in the conversion of the story to a musical. Maybe that’s why the movie feels less than satisfying, though the fact that the songs aren’t very memorable has something to do with it. Nonetheless, there are some interesting performances here, particularly from Bob Fosse as the Snake and Gene Wilder as the Fox. I do get the feeling that if I ever opt to experience this one again, I’ll go for the book.


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