Hot Docs 2019 Review: The Miracle of the Little Prince

by Andrew Parker

The Miracle of The Little Prince finds Dutch documentarian Marjoleine Boonstra travelling the world to profile dedicated translators who use Antoine de Saint-Exupéry timeless and overwhelmingly emotional novel to help keep dying, frequently less spoken and documented languages alive.

Next to religious texts, The Little Prince is the third most widely translated book in the world. Boonstra speaks with various Indigenous and marginalized peoples about what preserving the book in their language means to them and how they personally relate to the text. Depending on the location and people being profiled, translators can find meanings in The Little Prince that are sometimes very different in terms of political and philosophical intent, but the story’s lessons about personal freedom, the cruelty of adults, and persevering amid the loneliness of human existence remains intact no matter where Boonstra goes, be it Central America, Tibet, North Africa, or rural Norway. The Miracle of The Little Prince illustrates how the text can keep both hope and tradition alive in troubling times for a specific culture.

The Miracle of The Little Prince is a fascinating idea for a documentary, but Boonstra’s bone dry and largely academic tone will likely be unappealing to those who adore the fantasy and emotional weight of Saint-Exupéry’s novel. It’s objective and straightforward almost to a fault, and Boonstra doesn’t help matters much by spending far more time in each location than necessary. There’s definite value to The Miracle of The Little Prince, but it will mostly be to scholars, linguists, and anthropologists.

Friday, April 26, 2019 – 3:45 pm – Scotiabank Theatre 4

Sunday, April 28, 2019 – 3:00 pm – Hart House Theatre

Saturday, May 4, 2019 – 3:00 pm – Fox Theatre

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