I remember reading Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince because I was an overachiever. It was the summer after my first year of college, which I referred to as the longest summer of my life. It was the first time I’d be off from May until August. Public school summers were much shorter, and the next year I would have been accustomed to long summers. But that year, that would be the longest.
Being the overachiever I was, I decided I would learn Japanese.
While doing that, I found out my friend had a required reading assignment of The Little Prince. She was also required to write a paper on it. So me, with a summer of free time, decided to read it and write a paper.
Years later, when I saw Netflix was releasing a theatrical version, Pete and I put it on a long list of things to stream.
We finally got to it last night, and thank goodness we did.
The written version of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince is sandwiched between a new tale of an overextended 8-going-on-40-year-old girl who moves with her workaholic mother into a suburb with an elite elementary school. Missing from the picture is the daughter’s overworked father who is in a skyscraper office building in some unseen town.
As the little girl is set to begin a summer filled with schedules and life plans, an airplane piece flies through the wall of the new home, eventually introducing her to an incredibly eccentric aviator. Or, former aviator. He’s aged, now, and shouldn’t be starting the plane he keeps in his backyard.
She, being a studious little girl with no time for anything except her schedule, is shockingly distracted when the aviator flies a piece of a story into her bedroom window. It tells the story of a little prince, who was wandering through Africa, finds an aviator, and asks him to draw a sheep. So he does. And it’s wrong. Again. Wrong. Third time. Wrong. So he draws a box with air holes and says the sheep is inside.
“This is exactly the way I wanted it!” The little prince exclaims … just as I mumble over him, “I remember that sheep.” And that’s when the tears started forming. I couldn’t remember the story, but I could remember the feeling of it. And it hit me in the gut.
Each important quote that was buried in my memory hit me harder than the one before. Until “What I see here is nothing but a shell. What is most important is invisible … ” and then the exchange: “I can’t take this body with me. It’s too heavy. … But it’ll be like an old abandoned shell. There’s nothing sad about an old shell.”
The flood gates opened and there was not enough material in my sleeves to wipe all my tears.
When you’re an overachieving college sophomore-to-be, these thoughts don’t hit you as they do when you’ve gone through a bit of life, when you miss someone so deeply, both heart and shell.
Just as the tears stop and you regain control of your breath, you flash back to the bread portion of the sandwich, with the little girl and the aviator. And that doesn’t give you any reprieve from the tears or the message. It just comes in lines you haven’t memorizes, so your heart doesn’t see it coming.
When you’re younger, and you watch this, you’ll take from it that you don’t have to grow up and become dull and boring. You can keep your excitement and wonder. And when you’re older, and you watch this, you understand when someone says, “It is lonely when you’re among people, too.”
No matter how old you are, you have to watch this. Right now. Right this very second. Drop everything and stream it on Netflix. Or pick it up on Amazon here and watch it as soon as it arrives. Just watch it with tissues. And maybe with the lights out.
The animation is amazing and visually beautiful. The story of The Little Prince is beautiful. And the story around the story is just as beautiful and heartwarming. You will love every second of this, even the parts that stab you in the gut, even the parts that cause you tears.