Little is Big: the unprecedented integration of The Little Prince

Some of you may know — and may have actually read — a book for children and adults that has sold over 140 million copies worldwide: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (categorized as int8). Maybe there are even some who have seen the recent film based on this book — the film that won the César Award for Best Animated Film and also received critical acclaim in France and elsewhere, but not in the USA. However, many in America instead know the movie called Inside Out (2015).

To understand the achievement of Mark Osborne and his team, there will be some comparative discussion, involving spoilers, so I recommend watching at least The Little Prince (2015) before proceeding to read further. We will find two integrations within the film that exactly follow two levels of the Model, something that has never been done before in a work of art. This is the first instance to so fully and in such great detail explicate the process of integration from the awakening of an integrator to a masterful conclusion.

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Conspicuous beginnings

Without announcement or explanation, Paramount Pictures, the distributer of The Little Prince, deprived the American audience of the right to view this film in movie theaters on March 18, 2016, nearly 8 months after its premier in France. Why? — you might ask. Who knows? Well, it hasn’t been the first time Paramount acted so rashly, and there is a considerable reaction against its decisions if you look under #BoycottParamount on Facebook or Twitter.

By using CG for a whole new overarching story and stop-motion for the scenes from the book, The Little Prince beautifully and accurately portrays the famous novel but frames it within the story about the Little Girl, her Mother, and the Pilot, an eccentric neighbor who becomes a dear friend. The Little Girl’s story is unusual in some respects, but reflects the book, in that no one has names, only descriptions, except for the Mother’s colleagues, whom she briefly mentions before driving to work, as if the only true “reality” is at work, where there are only adults who probably forgot their childhood, but we never see that “reality,” nor do we see the Girl’s father, and what we see may not seem like reality at all, but just the opposite, an inversion. The inversion also happens within the Little Girl, but it helps her survive in that colorless and insensitive world, a world without dear friends or understanding parents.

The reality is gray and dominated by the brain, an image of which is plainly displayed on academic uniforms. To grow up to be a “good” adult, the Little Girl must follow the life schedule created by her Mother in order to prepare for the next year in the academy. We see the world through the eyes of a child, just as we were able to do with the help of Saint-Exupéry, when the Prince saw a goat in a box drawn by the stranded Pilot[1] or when he saw a flower among the stars or a well in the desert. This child hasn’t learned to generalize yet, but he knows how to see with his heart.

The brain, when the sole focus, doesn’t see color and beauty in the world and converts the world into a prison-like factory of the “essential” goods. Nonetheless, while existing in this world, the Little Girl realizes that her Mother is not against her, and, in that wonderful musical collage of equations and feelings, the Girl unites her brain and her heart and, in the end, improves the relationship with her mother without herself being limited to a friendless existence. With an integrated consciousness, relationships become the second stage of integration.

Double integration

The story of the movie is “born out of the book” and is about how everything essential is invisible to the eye. The heart-felt belief inspired by the story is the cornerstone of understanding the first integration. In a mystically emotional encounter, love, as the most valuable attainment of any individual, is taught by a wise imaginary friend, the Fox, who needs to be tamed into friendship. In the dream-like sequence that starts like it is real, tricking some viewers till its end, the Little Girl saves the Little Prince by coming to grips with her own imagination, concerning the Little Prince, reflecting her own dilemma, being lost on a foreign, adult-populated planet without being able to return to the love, the Rose, waiting for him on his native planet.

The Rose plays a central role in the first integration, as known by the readers of the novel, but in the movie its role is enlarged to not only serve as a goal for the Prince’s return journey home but also as the heart of all things, in the heart of the Girl who imagined it. When the Little Girl and the Prince hold hands before the dead Rose, we see this beautiful scene, when the pink rays of the great spiral reach from the soft-colored sun and reveal a vision of the universal Rose. The love that the Rose represents is coming from the heart, through which, and only through which, the consciousness of the Little Girl is integrated. She learns the wisdom of the essence of things and she applies this knowledge to her loved ones: her Mother and her dying friend, the Pilot, to whom she returns by the end of the film. After she can see with her heart and after the worries of her brain are settled, the peaceful Little Girl can pour her love into the book, with which she approaches the Pilot. It is this book that has taught her the value of love and friendship.

Starting with and going through the heart in peace with the brain, consciousness as a complex in itself, which is directly, partially experienced only as the subconscious, is properly integrated on level 7, i.e. Organ and Aura, of the Model. The later integration is of level 8, Body and Environment, when through the book, with pages recovered and carefully pieced together, our integrator Girl finally connects with the Pilot and her Mother. The book is that element through which they are united in the environment and which, founded on the Girl’s integrated consciousness, draws light and goodness into their relationship. There is indeed that much to be learned here.

A comparison and what the future may hold

Some may compare The Little Prince with Inside Out, also about the developing inner world of a little girl, but the two movies are quite different. Inside Out is bound to the preadolescent world of a 12-year old, while The Little Prince explores the concepts of love, friendship, and death, as well as differences between childhood and adulthood, in a very down-to-earth and, surprisingly, enlightening manner, showing that even daily life can be philosophical. Both movies are good, but The Little Prince is special, even magical. We can feel the fact only more upsetting when we consider that Inside Out won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature, and The Little Prince didn’t even get a mention, even though they were produced not far apart. And while we blame Paramount for not showing The Little Prince in theaters, we must also praise Netflix, who had released the film on August 5th, 2016, and started a campaign to nominate it for this year’s awards. With Netflix’s welcome support, the injustice done by Paramount can be relieved. Let’s We hoped The Little Prince will would have had its chance at this year’s Academy Awards because it truly deserves to be valued and to have an ending to remember. Unfortunately, the call for that general praise the movie deserved is left unsatisfied.

[1] Flying a plane was Saint-Exupéry’s real-life profession; the last time he was seen he was soaring through the skies never to be found again, only later, maybe, landing in a desert like the Pilot from his acclaimed novel.

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