France's 'Little Prince' to hit the small screen
Sunday 03 October 2010
Where Walt Disney and others failed, the heirs of Antoine de Saint-Exupery have finally succeeded in bringing the French aviator's world-famous blonde Little Prince to the small screen.
The 52-episode animated series of the best-selling ever French book, first published in English in 1943 and in French only three years later, is to be shown in 80 countries, with a first taste on French television at Christmas.
"Send me word that he has come back," which takes its name from the final words of Saint-Exupery's space-odyssey, sees the diminutive hero travel around 24 planets in a bid to save the universe from a snake.
The series will be shown around the world, from Australia to Japan, where a Little Prince museum receives 400,000 visitors a year.
Over 134 million copies of the poetic and philosophical book have been sold around the world, where it has been translated into 220 languages and dialects.
"Adapting the Little Prince has been very difficult because it's at once a small book and a Pandora's box, very simple and very deep," says the series' co-author, Alexandre de la Patelliere.
Rather than copy the book's simple style, the series seeks to help the prince escape the printed page, throwing him into a stylised universe that is more accessible for 21st-century children.
And whereas the original story is told by an adult narrator, the new series is told by the prince himself.
The heirs of Saint-Exupery, who died mysteriously during a reconnaissance mission in 1944 and never saw his book published in French, wanted to "bring the Little Prince's message to 21st-century children through new media, with a different language," says producer Aton Soumache.
"Taking the plunge was painful," he says.
Francois d'Agay, who represents Saint-Exupery's heirs, says that "it was a difficult wish because the work is impalpable."
- 'Ambassador of sustainable development' -
He says that Walt Disney tried to animate the Little Prince, but the result was "flat and lifeless".
"We needed a solution: get the Little Prince out of his book while preserving the spirit," he says, adding that the heirs were won over by the first images from the series.
The protagonist is modelled in three dimensions, his eyes have been opened wider and coloured blue. The fox has become his witty and sometimes sulky companion and the snake's humour is dark.
The character is romantic and modern. His proximity to nature has been developed, making him an "ambassador of sustainable development."
In contrast to 1946, the producer says, when the baobab trees featured on one of the book's many planets were supposed to represent totalitarianism.
More than 450 people worked on the project for three years, with a budget of more than 18 million euros (25 million dollars).
Despite criticism that the lovable prince has been made to look Japanese, another administrator of Saint-Exupery's estate, Oliver d'Agay, says: "I'm not worried the work will be lost because it's stainless."
"It's beyond us. It won't necessarily please adults but what's important is that it speaks to children," he said.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Arizona shooting: Gun instructor accidentally killed by nine-year-old girl with Uzi
- 2 Paul Scholes: Manchester City were so good against Liverpool I felt like turning the television off
- 3 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 4 Homer Simpson has taken the ALS ice bucket challenge because of course he has
- 5 Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Great British Bake Off, episode 4, review: Heat gets turned up – and Iain goes into meltdown
Doctor Who lesbian kiss sparks Ofcom complaints over 'weird lesbian-lizard perv trip'
Nicki Minaj suffers wardrobe malfunction during MTV VMAs performance with Ariana Grande and Jessie J
Emmys 2014: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Steven Moffat win big awards for Sherlock
Homer Simpson has taken the ALS ice bucket challenge because of course he has
Exclusive: We share blame for creating 'jihad generation', says Muslim strategist
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Arizona shooting: Gun instructor accidentally killed by nine-year-old girl with Uzi
Jeremy Clarkson is a cultural tumour and needs to be removed, says comedian Frankie Boyle
- < Previous
- Next >