DVD Review HTF REVIEW: The Little Prince (Recommended)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Scott Kimball, Apr 16, 2004.

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  1. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]

    The Little Prince



    Studio: Paramount

    Year: 1974

    Rated: G

    Length: 88 minutes

    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

    Audio: English Dolby Surround (2.0)

    English Subtitles, Closed Captioned

    Special Features:None

    SRP: $14.99 US


    Release Date: April 6, 2004




    I’ve never read Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s book, The Little Prince. I was actually unfamiliar with the story until this DVD arrived for review. Apparently, though, the original story is a much revered children’s book in France.

    I’ve read that the film doesn’t do the original story justice. No big surprise, there, since what one can imagine in a story like this is usually more impressive than what is put on celluloid. Having not read the story, I can’t directly make a comparison assessment. I can, however, say that the film is a warm and enchanting children’s musical.

    At its core, The Little Prince is about lost youth. It’s about a man who suppressed the child in him too early in life, and rediscovers it through an unusual encounter in the desert. Richard Kiley plays a pilot, stranded, alone in the desert after his small plane crashes. While attempting repairs on his craft, a strange child approaches. The child claims to be from another world, and claims to have met many beings before the pilot.

    The young prince tells the tale of his travels from a remote asteroid where his only companion was a defenseless rose, to other worlds where the residents were less than friendly, and to Earth, where his first encounters were with a snake (Bob Fosse) and a fox (Gene Wilder).

    Of course, the prince’s tales are filled with delightful music (by Lerner and Loewe) and dance. Bob Fosse becomes a snake, and Gene Wilder is a fox. Costumes and makeup are not needed, They just are.

    Kiley’s performance is the common thread throughout the film, with strong performances from all. With sure-footed direction by Stanley Donen and some great Lerner and Loewe music, and some interesting cinematography (I love the fox sequence) and unusual set design... how can you go wrong?

    This is a gem of a film that is a good choice for the whole family.

    ... and remember... it’s not a hat!

    The Video
    The DVD features an anamorphic, 1.85:1 transfer. The Technicolor process struts its stuff here, with gorgeous, true colors and impressive saturation. There is good contrast in the transfer, with deep blacks and good shadow detail. Some fine grain is present in some darker scenes. The image is sharp and detailed, with no sign of edge enhancement or compression artifacts. The unusual sets and stage lighting, and fantasy atmosphere, make for an interesting visual presentation that is well expressed on this DVD. There is an occasional speck of dust on the film, but nothing intrusive.

    The Audio
    There is no 5.1 track on this DVD... we have only an English Dolby Surround (2.0). The music is well represented, with good frequency response. Both vocals and the full orchestral score sound very good. Dialog is clear and full, and always intelligible. The front soundstage is used to good effect, with only ambient effects in the rear. Though the soundtrack doesn’t have a dedicated LFE track, the film does have decent bass response.

    Special Features
    There are no special features.

    Final Thoughts
    I thoroughly enjoyed this Lerner and Loewe music, based on the French children’s story. The DVD does it justice, and is priced to sell.

    Recommended.
     
  2. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Cinematographer

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    Just a bit of trivia. These were last songs that composer Frederick Loewe wrote. At one time during pre-production it was reported that Frank Sinatra, who was in retirement at the time, would sign on for the male lead.
     
  3. TonyDale

    TonyDale Second Unit

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    Added words of trivia:

    Donna McKechnie as The Rose sings for herself, but, her speaking voice is dubbed.
    The Rose's solo, "Be Happy" is only one of the victims of Paramount's pre-opening editing; as the song is in the film, it opens with the chorus before going into the verse. (The complete number initially ran 4:16).
    "I'm on Your Side" was edited pre-opening as well.
    "Why is the Desert" is lacking its original complete introdution.
    One entire short (2:01) song, "Matters of Consequence," sung by Clive Revill, was filmed, but deleted.
    There is also an alternate take on the Overture which adds approximately one minute.
    Among those who have sung these final Lerner & Loewe songs:
    Jack Jones, who sang the title song on the Academy Awards.
    Robert Goulet, who has recorded the title song.
    Bryn Terfel, who has recorded "I Never Met a Rose."
    Somewhere out there is a demo recording of the composing team performing all of THE LITTLE PRINCE'S music.

    Wonderful film, which I hold very dear.
     
  4. MarcusUdeh

    MarcusUdeh Supporting Actor

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    I remember being made to watch this movie in first grade.
     
  5. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Cinematographer

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    Tony,


    Sssssssssssssssssssplendid info.
     
  6. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    I'd rather buy that 80's animated adaption that used to broadcast in the early mornings on PBS...
     
  7. TonyDale

    TonyDale Second Unit

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    Thanksssssssss, Peter!

    I'd add that Bob Fosse was resssponsssible for hisss own choreography, but, that'sssssss ssssimply common knowledge, isssssn't it?
     
  8. Doug Bull

    Doug Bull Advanced Member

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    One of my favorites and after the atrocious quality pan and scan Laserdisc, the DVD is a Beauty to Behold.

    Thank you Paramount.
     
  9. RobertSiegel

    RobertSiegel Screenwriter
    Reviewer

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    I've also been waiting for this musical gem. The score is actually quite good, and Lerner and Lowe did a great job with the story turning it into a musical. The transfer is so improved over my pan and scanned laserdisc. Very different type of film musical, a fantasy, but a good film that left me feeling great, thanks Paramount for taking the time to make this look so good. While the soundtrack is true stereo (like the laserdisc) and not bad compared to some 70's pre-Dolby soundtracks I have heard, I wish all of the studios would at least release 4.0 tracks on a dvd (could we ever hope for 4.0 dts tracks on a classic film musical? HAHA say the studios).At least then it is presented the way it was in magnetic stereo, not mixed into a system that came later and then decodes that surround separation.
     
  10. Porter Faulkner

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    Dont be mean Paramount!

    Both 'Little Prince' and 'Half a Sixpence' have no inside liner notes or list of the chapter stops. This is VERY inconvenient and you have to keep going into the on-screen menu to find your favourite bits.

    I know this is very reasonably priced but surely it cant cost that much for a slip of paper.

    On its initial release this was also one of the first movies to utilise the new 'Dolby System' as it was then.
     
  11. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    Paramount hasn't released a DVD with an insert for several months. It's a trend seen at some other studios, as well.

    For bare-bones releases, I don't much care. For Special Editions, an insert would be nice.

    -Scott
     

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