The Little Prince and the Planet of Butchery
Do you know the classic children’s story The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry? It’s a complex and moving piece of literature. It’s about an aviator who crash lands in the desert and meets the Little Prince, a peculiar little boy, there. It is not a lightweight work; it deals with adult concerns in sensitive ways. It features a man who drinks to forget that he is ashamed of his own drinking, a business man who takes no time for anything but his work, and a king who can command the sun to set but only at the time that it would be setting anyway. There is a Fox who teaches the Little Prince the significance of taming; “To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world.” And it features a Snake who… I’ll tell you in a moment. It is a wonderful work. I know it primarily through a 1974 vinyl LP version featuring Richard Burton as the unnamed aviator, with musical backing by Moog pioneer Mort Garson. I have discovered today that there is also a short film adaptation by Will Vinton, which appears to be similarly faithful to the original story. I intend to see it soon. Oh, and there is also a 1974 movie musical that features Gene Wilder as the Fox. That’s… certainly one way to tell the story. The child actor seems rather stiff, but the film looks charming. I’ll be seeing that in time, too.
But I also found out about the monstrosity pictured above: a French CGI series called The Little Prince and the Planet of Time, produced by Method Animation studios. I watched the trailer. It seemed at first to be an interesting reinvention of the story world; did it take place after the events of the original story, perhaps? But then I saw the Snake. They turned the Snake into the villain. This is WRONG. The Snake is NOT the villain. Here, here is an excerpt from the chapter that introduces the Snake:
“Where are the men?” the little prince at last took up the conversation again. “It is a little lonely in the desert . . .”
“It is also lonely among men,” the snake said.
The little prince gazed at him for a long time.
“You are a funny animal,” he said at last. “You are no thicker than a finger . . .”
“But I am more powerful than the finger of a king,” said the snake.
The little prince smiled.
“You are not very powerful. You haven’t even any feet. You cannot even travel . . .”
“I can carry you farther than any ship could take you,” said the snake.
He twined himself around the little prince’s ankle, like a golden bracelet.
“Whomever I touch, I send back to the earth from whence he came,” the snake spoke again. “But you are innocent and true, and you come from a star . . .”
The little prince made no reply.
“You move me to pity–you are so weak on this Earth made of granite,” the snake said. “I can help you, some day, if you grow too homesick for your own planet. I can–”
“Oh! I understand you very well,” said the little prince. “But why do you always speak in riddles?”
“I solve them all,” said the snake.
And they were both silent.
And so there it is: plain to see for anyone who is literate. The Snake is not a villain. The Snake is Death. He is neither good nor bad; he simply is. He is Death with all of its mystery and finality. And so when the idiots at Method Animation got their hands on the story, what did they do? From the semi-official English-language site:
He is the villain of the series!
Fuck you, Method Animation.
Like the Little Prince, the Snake travels from planet to planet, but his task is to trouble the spirits of the inhabitants of the planets he visits and overturn the smooth order of things. He is a devious, manipulative creature who whispers dark thoughts into the ears of those who doubt. He is the very incarnation of evil and source of all the problems in the galaxy. But why is he so wicked?
Because you guys at Method Animation are a bunch of simple-minded fucks, that’s why! You had a complex story in front of you, and you were too stupid to understand it. So you said, “Dur! The Snake must be evil, because death is bad! And snakes are supposed to be evil anyhow! We don’t like complex stories, and we can’t allow children to appreciate them either! Dur!” To turn the snake into a dimensionless villain is completely antithetical to what the story was about. It’s an insult to fans like me and to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Furthermore, it continues an upsetting trend of dumbing things down for kids, rather than challenging and elevating them with more sophisticated material. Do you idiots at Method realize that there are grown adults who see the world in terms of heroes and villains because people like you deprive them of story lines where the characters are more complex?
Forget this series. If I want an adaptation, I’ll stick with Will Vinton or Mort Garson, thank you very much.