Charles Officer’s follow-up to his awarding documentary Unarmed Verses is an insightful look at the inspiring legacy of the famed children’s book The Little Prince. In Invisible Essence: The Little Prince, Officer traces the history of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s fable, which has been translated into over 200 hundred languages, and the indelible mark on generations of children and adults alike.
It is in the deconstruction of the various layers of the book that Officer’s film becomes its own unique telling of the story. Each section of the book is reconstructed through footage from previous adaptations, including Mark Osborne’s 2015 animated version and the 2016 National Ballet of Canada production, and commentary from academics from around the globe.
Through this inventive approach, the film creates a vivid portrait of a book that not only captures the spirit of imagination; but inspires it as well. As Officer shows, it does not matter if you are a blind child reading braille or a historian in Morocco, the themes in the film speak to every facet of the human experience. A point that is hit home when Invisible Essence: The Little Prince weaves in aspects of Saint-Exupéry’s own life into the narrative.
Officer’s film skillfully maintains its sense of innocence while simultaneously tackling the complex moments of the author’s life. In analyzing Saint-Exupéry’s complicated marriage to his wife Consuelo, and the way aviation and technology shaped the writer’s views of the world, the film effectively peels away the layers of the book to expose the rich meanings hidden within. Much like The Little Prince’s protagonist, it was in some of Saint-Exupéry’s darkest moments, take the occupation of his homeland of France during World War II for example, where the light of creativity shines brightest.
In celebrating the endearing legacy of Saint-Exupéry’s work, Invisible Essence: The Little Prince is a reminder of the strength imagination can give us to overcome life’s numerous obstacles.