The Little bit Strange
Those who have read some of my other reviews will know two things, I enjoy musicals and I don't read many books. As such when it comes to "The Little Prince" I've never read Antoine de Saint-ExupÃ©ry's novel which it is adapted from but being that it is a musical interested me. In fact being a musical the talent also interested me, Stanley Donen had directed some of the greats, Gene Wilder has appeared in the brilliant "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" and Bob Fosse had choreographed some of the great musical dance routines. But whilst there is plenty of talent in "The Little Prince" I just didn't get it, didn't enjoy it and I am sure I am not alone as it ends up disjointed and shall we say a little strange even for it's era.
Having been forced to make an emergency landing in the middle of a desert The Pilot (Richard Kiley - Patch Adams) comes to find he is met by a Little Prince (Steven Warner) who he soon discovers is from the tiny asteroid B-612. Perplexed at how this Little Prince has got there the Pilot learns all about his life from tending to The Rose (Donna McKechnie) on his asteroid, through visiting various planets before becoming stuck on Earth where he encounters a snake (Bob Fosse) and a fox (Gene Wilder) and learns all about the importance of life.
Now as already mentioned I haven't read Antoine de Saint-ExupÃ©ry's novel on which "The Little Prince" is adapted from and as such I do wonder whether huge chunks of it have been missed out. The reason being is that it all feels disjointed with scenes jarring all over the place from the opening which sees The Pilot as a child asking what people see when they show them a picture through to the now adult Pilot meeting the Little Prince in the desert. It just doesn't flow which feels a shame as there are moments where it just seems to work as we watch The Pilot bond with The Little Prince as he tells him his story and the encounters he has had on Earth having come down from his Asteroid. You sort of get the gist of the story and the deeper meaning but it is struggle because it just doesn't feel coherent.
Now part of the problem is not so much that "The Little Prince" is a musical but like the storyline the musical scenes jar with everything else. When we watch the Little Prince encounter the Snake watching Bob Fossee dance is wonderful even if the song he sings is a little surreal but it just feels thrown in jarring with what is going on either side. The same can be said of when the Little Prince meets the Fox as Gene Wilder is brilliant in his small scene but that small scene just feels out of place. I am sure this disjointed feeling was intentional because there is something very surreal about the movie from the scenes of the Little Prince on his asteroid talking to The Rose through to visits to other planets where he encounters The Businessman, The Historian and The General. Maybe in 1974 this almost surreal experience worked and I hope it did but watching "The Little Prince" now makes it feels very strange.
Despite this the performances are enjoyable especially those of Bob Fossee and Gene Wilder who spark some life into the proceedings. But at the centre of "The Little Prince" are Richard Kelly as The Pilot and Steve Warner as the Little Prince and both do a good job especially young Warner who at times is cute whilst at others is plainly strange in keeping with him being from a tiny Asteroid. But like everything about "The Little Prince" even the performances at times feel disjointed especially when it comes to Richard Kelly who at times looks like he is trying to make sense of what he is doing whilst trying to deliver his lines.
What this all boils down to is that watching "The Little Prince" now and it is a very weird almost surreal experience, although I am sure back in 1974 when it was released it felt a touch more normal. But it just doesn't work for me, it feels very disjointed with surreal musical scenes suddenly thrown in just as the storyline is building some form of coherency and it makes it not so much hard to follow but awkward to follow. And whilst I've never read Antoine de Saint-ExupÃ©ry's novel I can't but help that this strange musical doesn't do it justice although it is at times so weird that it most certainly won't be a musical you will ever forget.