Tuesday, August 27, 2019

That internationally famous, uber-popular book is back again in Marjoleine Boonstra's THE MIRACLE OF THE LITTLE PRINCE

If you are an adherent of The Little Prince, the book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry first published in 1943, to the point that you find this little tome to contain just about everything the world needs in terms of guidance, philosophy and ideas to live by, then this new documentary by Marjoleine Boonstra entitled THE MIRACLE OF THE LITTLE PRINCE will probably be quite up your (along with lots and lots of other people's) alley. After all, The Little Prince is said to be second only to The Bible in its popularity and the number of languages -- 375 -- into which it has been translated.

Ms Boonstra, shown at left, has gotten the idea to show us four of these cultures/languages that are currently in danger of disappearing, along with how Saint-Exupéry's novella is helping them to survive.

These languages would be Tamazight, spoken by the Berbers of Morocco; Nahuat, spoken by the Pipil of El Salvador; the Sami and their language of Northern Scandinavia; and Tibetan, the language spoken in Tibet (as long as those Chinese overlords don't hear you).

So we spend maybe 20 to 25 minutes in each of these locations, learning a bit about the people, their history and language, watching them read (from The Little Prince, of course) during which we hear some of Saint-Exupéry's verbiage. And in each of the locations (at least three out of four that I noticed) we catch sight of a child, usually in the background but still quite obvious, who is pretty clearly meant to stand in for that Little Prince (herewith to be signified as TLP).

And that's pretty much it. To call this movie slow would be to find a snail speedy, while to try to gain much more from the documentary than the notion that, yes, the famous book has served to help preserve these languages will prove difficult. Boonstra is unable to make any more thorough or specific connections that might pull us in more forcefully or creatively. Still, perhaps this will be enough for TLP lovers.

Along the way, we do learn an oddball thing or two -- most interestingly how to pack up three sheep and carry them on a motorcycle and that the Nahuat language has no specific word for rose -- and some of the settings, particularly the desert and El Salvador, look majestic or verdant, though Paris, where our Tibetan now resides thanks to the Chinese take-over, doesn't look nearly as lovely as usual.

Toward the end there is a very odd dead-bird story, and by the finale, you will see how the lessons of TLP can be applied here, as just about everywhere else. That's the point, I suppose. My question, after finishing The Miracle of The Little Prince (and of course, yes, it must be nothing less than a "miracle," right?) is how this movie ever got made, let alone how it managed to find a distributor.

From Film Movement, running 89 minutes, and in French, Tibetan, Tamazight, Sami and Nahuat with English subtitles, the film opens this Wednesday, August 28, in New York City for a one-week engagement at Film Forum. A couple more playdates are now scheduled; click here and scroll down to view them.

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