France's 'Little Prince' to hit the small screen

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 and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood

'Whether he left is almost immaterial'TV
Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before