On aura toujours rendez-vous
Welcome to Jamais Plus, a one page shrine dedicated to the French musical adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s novella Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) from 2002, created as part of Amassment’s One Page, One Month: ENCORE Marathon. The current layout was optimized for Chrome and desktop view.
This shrine offers an in-depth look into one of numerous musical interpretations of Le Petit Prince and assumes that you are already familiar with the work itself — if you aren’t, I urge you to go on that brief, but profound journey. The musical has been fully uploaded to YouTube, with English subtitles provided by roughdiamond5. Whether DVDs of the musical can still be acquired from primary sources I do not know, though Amazon seems to have some in stock depending on where you live (prices may vary drastically), but the soundtrack is available for purchase on the iTunes Store.
On this shrine, I outline the different stages of the prince’s journey, describe how each song is embedded and comment on the musical’s execution and its unique qualities; included are excerpts of the lyrics of some of my favourite songs along with my own English translations. Clicking on icons takes you to the part of the musical where the respective musical number starts playing (within the YouTube playlist linked above), icons lead to the full lyrics on frmusique.ru, and icons mark my favourites. [Square brackets] in the English translations are additional literal translations because I am obnoxious when it comes to each language’s subtleties. English terms and passages used to refer to the novella (such as the designations of the persons the little prince meets on his journey, or song titles and lines based on specific lines of the novella) are taken from Katherine Woods’ published translation.
If there’s anything you’d like to say about this dedication, I’d be delighted about any feedback in my guestbook! Thanks a lot for your visit. ❤
Componist: Riccardo (Richard) Cocciante
Songwriter: Elisabeth Anaïs
Director: Jean-Louis Martinoty
Producer: Victor Bosch/NODO Productions
Costume Designer: Jean-Charles de Castelbajac
Set Designer: Hans Shavernoch
Lighting Designer: Jean Kalman
The Pilot: Daniel Lavoie
The Little Prince: Jeff
The Rose: Cathialine Andria
The King: Stéphane Neville
The Conceited Man: Laurent Ban
The Tippler: Gérard Nicaud
The Businessman: Sébastien Izambard
The Lamplighter: Thomas Gérome
The Geographer: Christophe Cerino
The Fox: Romain Cortèse
The Railway Switchman: Nicolas Saje
The Pill Merchant: Désir Bastareaud
The Snake: Sylvaine Charrier
The musical premiered in October 2002 at the Casino de Paris (a performance venue, not a casino), where it ran until January 2003. I discovered it by chance in June 2013, when a link led me to the song C’est un chapeau! , a song I immediately fell in love with and that unexpectedly became one of my favourites on the soundtrack. When I looked for more tracks on YouTube, believing the song to be part of a tribute disc, it surprised me to find out that it was part of an entire musical. I was skeptical at first, not quite sure whether I ought to watch it in its entirety. As I have read the novella many, many times in three languages and hold it very dear (not just its story or messages, but also its syntax, its pacing, single lines — and you know how adaptations usually omit a fair amount of lines, all the more so when the original is narrated from a first person perspective), I thought that no visualization could possibly do it justice, what with its hauntingly lonely mood, its melancholic, thought-provoking journey and the quiet, reserved dialogues that pass judgement nevertheless.
Though I cannot evaluate the musical in relation to other musicals (I’m only familiar with Sera Myu, and the only musical I’ve ever experienced live is Mamma Mia! because it was a school event), I must say that this one filled me with awe due to the creative capacity and dedication of its creators and contributors — it’s plainly visible how much love went into this and how much they wanted it to stay true to the original work. The way they try to preserve and integrate as many lines of the novella as possible is something you notice from the beginning: Its first musical number is Dédicace , which, as you may have guessed, is the adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s actual dedication in Le Petit Prince (one with thematic ties to the novella’s story).
The stage, the costumes, the lyrics, the singing, the acting — they’re all very beautiful and fitting, but I can’t cease being amazed at how accurately the performers portray the figures of the novella, especially the little prince himself. He may initially be a difficult character to grasp (his nuances and his manner of speech), but Jeff manages to capture his essence perfectly: There’s a certain fragility to him, an awareness for the values that are truly important in spite of — or due to — his naïveté, his innocence; there’s the sensitivity he has gained in the course of his journey, the tenderness with which he holds the abandoned rose in his thoughts. You need to see the stage design for yourself (well, in the video) to understand how beautiful it is: the backdrop featuring space, the ever-changing lighting, the various planets that the prince visits, each with their own peculiarities…
The musical touched me so deeply that I immediately rewatched various scenes over and over (during a finals period! some songs are so very comforting ❤), to the point of memorizing gestures, facial expressions and pauses because they go so well with the respective scenes. Whether or not you know French, I do recommend having a look, even if it’s only a select few songs singled out further below.
Dédicace / Dedication
C’est un chapeau! / It’s a hat!
Droit devant soi / Straight ahead of you
Les grandes personnes sont comme ça / Grown-ups are like that
Les baobabs / The baobabs
Près d’elle / Near her
La rose / The rose
Adieu (et tâche d’être heureux) / Farewell (and try to be happy)
Je t’ordonne / I command you
Moi, je / [Me,] I
Je bois pour oublier / I drink to forget
Je suis un homme sérieux / I am a serious man
C’est la consigne / That’s the instruction
Je prends note / I take note
La terre / The Earth
Ephémères / Ephemeral
Le serpent / The snake
L’echo / The echo
Le jardin des roses / The garden of roses
Apprivoise-moi / Tame me
Puisque c’est ma rose / Because it is my rose
L’aiguilleur / The railway switchman
Chercher la source / Looking for the well
On aura toujours rendez-vous / We will always meet
Le plus beau et le plus triste paysage du monde / The loveliest [most beautiful] and saddest landscape in the world
Many of these songs incorporate a good amount of rhymes (something you’ll notice when reading the lyrics below). ❤ Spoken scenes and ambient pieces aside, the musical comprises twenty-four songs, not counting La rose , which is curiously not listed on the back cover of the DVD case; perhaps it’s not considered a full song due to the constant interruption of spoken parts and because it gradually dies off due to the dialogue that takes place while it plays. On the other hand, Le serpent is listed even though it’s an instrumental piece — perhaps because each figure has a defining piece, with this one being the snake’s, and the rose’s isn’t actually La rose, but Adieu (et tâche d’être heureux) , which is sung without interruptions?
If you’d like to gauge whether the musical might be of interest to you, here’s a list of my favourite and recommended songs: C’est un chapeau! , Près d’elle , La rose , Adieu (et tâche d’être heureux) ,
Le jardin des roses , Apprivoise-moi , Puisque c’est ma rose ,
Le plus beau et le plus triste paysage du monde
Click on the headings below for a comprehensive breakdown of the musical, specific musical numbers and their execution.
I’ve mentioned above that the musical sticks closely to the novella, but of course, it’s a different medium, with its own ways to tell a story. At multiple points of the musical, the order of scenes is slightly different from the novella, and scenes and chapters may be merged to convey them more effectively as a visual and acoustic medium. As you may know or remember, the pilot acts as Le Petit Prince’s narrator, retelling the circumstances of his encounter with the prince, alternating between ex-post reflections, memories of his childhood and the time he spent with the prince as an adult.
After Dédicace , flickering lightning work representing a thunderstorm force the pilot to make an emergency crash landing in the desert at night; the stage and the desert are dark and quiet, the pilot’s oil lamp and flashlight being the only source of light. As the pilot starts reminiscing about his childhood, a pyramid looking like the gate to a different world, filled with a blue sky and white clouds, reveals itself in the background, illuminating the stage. The sand dunes and the plane can be seen more clearly now, and the pyramid is reflected on the floor. Within the pyramid are the grown-ups from the narrator’s memories as well as a rotating blackboard featuring his drawings as a child. And although this is a memory, the grown-ups are physically present as backdrop and interact verbally (and even sing along) with the adult pilot. This blending of present and past through the reality of the desert and the surreal pyramid window is, I must say, a very elegant way to combine the first chapter and the beginning of the second chapter of the novella, which, in written form, are clearly separated (by chapter, time and narrative style). ❤ It’s gorgeous, and as C’est un chapeau! starts to play its memorable tune, this scene convinced me to watch the whole musical.
C’est un chapeau!
[…] Alors j’ai rangé tous mes crayons
Mes drôles de dessins dans des cartons
J’ai trouvé enfin ma vocation
Je suis devenu pilote d’avion
Les grandes personnes, c’est fatiguant
Elles ne comprennent plus tellement
Elles ont besoin d’explications
Toujours et toujours des explications
Depuis j’ai croisé des tas de gens
Mon avis n’a pas changé vraiment
Je ne parle plus jamais d’étoiles
De serpents boas, de fleurs tropicales
J’ai quand même voulu faire l’essai
De mon dessin à nouveau
Mais les grandes personnes répondaient
Toujours et toujours: “C’est un chapeau!” […]
It’s a hat!
So I put away all my pencils
And my curious drawings into boxes
I eventually found my calling
I became the pilot of an airplane
The grown-ups are tiresome
There is so much they don’t understand
They need explanations
Always and always explanations
Since I have crossed paths with a great many people
My opinion hasn’t really changed
I never speak of stars again
Of boa constrictors, of tropical flowers
Still I wanted to test
My drawing anew
But the grown-ups answered
Always and always: “It’s a hat!”
The song is followed by the encounter between the pilot and the little prince and the ensuing plea for a drawing of a sheep. What the musical offers that the novella cannot (or only in a limited way) is the visual depiction of their body language around each other, the guarded and hesitant approach of the little prince (mentioned again further below), and ultimately how the two interact nonverbally, for example when the narrator is drawing or repairing his plane, or during the musical numbers themselves. Seeing the little prince rummage through the pilot’s belongings, tools unknown to him, is an amusing and very precious sight. ❤
Droit devant soi is the first duet and the song that connects the two; as in the third chapter of the novella, it addresses distances: the airplane that traverses the sky, the little prince’s far-away planet, a post for the sheep to prevent it from wandering off, and how limited you are if you only consider the path straight ahead. This ties in with the beginning and ending of the novella: the narrow-minded grown-ups and the fox’ lesson of the significance of the invisible. Worth mentioning is that while the novella’s chapter ends with an open “Straight ahead of you, nobody can go very far”, the song closes with a rather explicit “You have to get lost to better understand [find] yourself” — the second phrasing may be a better fit towards the end of the book when pilot, prince and reader have relived the little prince’s journey. By the end of the song, the emotional and physical distance between the two has mostly been bridged.
The pyramid is employed again when the narrator thinks about the prince’s home planet, the asteroid B-612, and once again there’s a parallel layer unique to the musical: While this is an ex-post sequence in the novella, the musical has the narrator tell the grown-ups in the background about the asteroid while the little prince is gesturing him to add details he may have omitted, clearly signifying that this musical number takes place simultaneously during their encounter as well as at a later stage of the pilot’s life. After Les grandes personnes sont comme ça , Les baobabs , an urgent and dramatic piece, has the performers face the audience as pilot and prince caution and discipline them. Interestingly, the original chapter and the duet address children specifically without mentioning grown-ups, but again the grown-ups within the pyramid become the focus in the musical as the second half of the song shows them mocking said discipline and responsibility, only to be swallowed up by the baobabs within the pyramid. The musical thus creates an additional link to the negligence and wrong priorities of grown-ups, a major theme of Le Petit Prince.
A few conversations later, the scenery shifts, moving from Earth to space and the prince’s home as he tells the pilot of his rose, which marks the beginning of the flashback depicting the prince’s journey. Près d’elle features what’s probably my favourite backdrop in the musical because it’s very simple, but effective: The song starts with the stage enveloped in darkness, only featuring endless space, stars, and the sun from afar as the prince watches on. His solo is, in contrast to the songs up to this point, immensely tender, positive and full of love, appreciation and wonder. The lighting gradually changes as dawn approaches the prince’s home, revealing more planets in the background. Both the song as well as the scenery convey how an entirely new world opens up to the little prince in his dedication to his flower as he watches over it and takes care of it for days. This song is remarkable to me because in the novella, it is neither part of a dialogue nor a monologue (it’s the narrator recounting the prince’s tale for the reader), yet they chose to have the little prince deliver the content of those passages through song and manage to imbue it with such affection as a result.
[…] Près d’elle
Je sens un miracle qui s’apprête
Qui vient pour réchauffer ma planète
Petite graine perdue dans l’univers
Qui a trouvé sa place sur ma terre
Elle se prépare avec tant d’amour
A naître en étant belle comme le jour
Je sens un miracle qui s’apprête
Qui vient pour éclairer ma planète
Close to her
Close to her
I sense a miracle preparing itself
That has come to warm up my planet
Little seed lost in the universe
That has found its home in my soil
It’s preparing itself with so much love
To be born as beautiful as the day
Close to her
I sense a miracle preparing itself
That has come to illuminate my planet
Close to her…
Although all three songs that play on the prince’s home soil are among my favourites and I think La rose is executed impressively well in many regards (the tune that conveys slowly waking at dawn, the gorgeous visuals of the rose’s blooming, how the song immediately starts after Près d’elle, the egocentric and demanding rose, her facial expressions and body language, and even the hints of tenderness in the music), this is the only scene in the entire musical that I can’t stand from a storytelling perspective. It’s by far the worst-written scene to me because it just doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, which is disastrous because it’s a key moment that pervades the prince’s entire journey. See, when the prince sings how the flower arrived on his planet as a seed in Près d’elle, there is nothing but love in his words as it is sung solely from his perspective. In the novella, however, the narrator tells the reader once again what the prince told him and emphasizes the flower’s efforts from her perspective while clearly judging her as well, describing her as “coquettish”. The rose is indeed very vain, but the musical prioritizes the portrayal of that vanity and her demanding personality at the cost of her other traits while having the prince interject isolated lines about her personality that seem to come out of nowhere, as they are not sufficiently backed up in contrast to the novella. In the musical, he thinks to himself that she is complicated, dishonest, capricious and pretentious in response to her verses — for no reason.
In the novella, the prince adores and continues to admire the rose despite being aware of her lack of modesty from the beginning; he keeps taking care of her and giving in to her requests even as he realizes she is more complex than he had thought. The rose, on the other hand, becomes more and more difficult to deal with, and her pride and vanity come to “torment” the little prince, punishing him for mistakes he didn’t make and exercising power over him. It is this manipulation, the uncertainty and instability that, as far as I understand it, eventually exhaust the prince and leave him at a loss as to how to continue the relationship. This manipulation, power display and mental warfare is entirely absent in the musical (in La rose specifically), as are the rose’s defining pride and the prince’s lasting admiration (in fact, I feel no admiration or even affection from the prince at all as soon as the rose has bloomed), and instead of quiet exhaustion and resignation, there’s uncharacteristic anger that is even expressed physically as the prince silences the rose and attempts to force a kiss on her, and she responds in kind by messing up his hair and kicking him (just… what). I cannot comprehend the thought process behind all of this at all.
Another discrepancy is that this relationship develops over the span of several days in the original, whereas it seems like a single — and their first! — conversation in the musical (especially if you consider how carefully the lighting signalized the cycle of day and night so far). The lack of the flower’s and the lack of the narrator’s judging voice make the scene very abrupt in some parts; as a result of all this, the key conflict is not conveyed well at all. The last straw of the ongoing argument is when the rose, in the novella, compares what she considers bad conditions on the prince’s planet to the place she came from, which is exposed as an obvious lie (as she arrived as a seed and thus cannot possibly have memories of other places), though she covers it up and makes the prince feel bad instead. This scene is… hinted at in the musical, but not portrayed as a source of conflict at all; worse, it seems quite random.
Finally, the scene does not convey the rose’s significance to the prince and the source of his anguish well because the chapter in the novella concludes with a change in perspective, first by the narrator, then by the prince from a later point in time as he confides in the narrator and regrets what he has done. In the musical — and here I’ll forgive it for not managing to accomplish what the written medium did —, this realization is not communicated to the audience immediately following the conflict, but quite a bit later, namely when the prince has visited the geographer.
This mess continues in the mournful Adieu (et tâche d’être heureux) , the song with which the rose bids farewell to the prince. Again the musical portrays the characters wrongly, as you cannot feel the prince’s melancholy and the mutual affection between him and his rose. And rather than being dignified and proud as usual in her farewell and her regret, something which the prince admires even as he leaves her behind in the original, the rose in the musical is on her knees, clinging to the prince, forcing her presence on him and confessing to him quite one-sidedly as the prince looks at her in silence (instead of expressing his concern for her). There’s also an unnecessary kiss. Honestly, I can’t tell whether everything that bothers me about these two scenes is to blame on the writing alone or whether it’s made worse by the lack of chemistry between the two performers.
The following part describes the six stations on the prince’s journey before he reaches Earth. While not my favourite part of the musical and the one I revisit the least, it’s also perhaps the richest in visual and musical diversity, something that is stressed and explored in the Making Of video mentioned below. As in the novella, the little prince visits six different planets after leaving his rose behind — and the musical ensures that those are memorable and distinct experiences: the design of the planets (medium-sized floating orbs on which the respective character is sitting), the colours of the stage lights that bathe the space backdrop in matching shades, the character songs (each of them not just expressing the content of their chapter in the novella, but an acoustic representation of their defining traits), the costumes, and of course the performers themselves with their facial expressions and body language. Though they may be elaborate in contrast to Saint-Exupéry’s original drawings, which are quite simple, they stick to the essential points of those images. The prince himself travels with the help of “a flock of wild birds”, which is turned into a wheeled bird-shaped contraption on the stage, complete with constantly moving origami birds attached to it. ❤
First is the king, his bejewelled planet mostly covered by his mantle as in the original drawing; the stage is an intimidating red, and the king himself is wielding a Bilboquet (a cup-and-ball toy), which symbolizes dexterity, composure and control — and also perhaps the planet itself. Je t’ordonne is a commanding tune backed up by repeated “Je t’ordonne!” (“I command you!”). An interesting addition to the musical that shows in its own way how deluded the king is in his capacity to give “reasonable orders” and absolute control is when the prince manages to wield the Bilboquet just as effectively, thus stripping the king of what he believes to be a unique skill.
Second is the conceited man who proclaims to enjoy the spotlight — literally so, as his planet is a big disco ball complete with what looks to be percussion instruments that act as his mirrors, and the stage’s lights focus on him alone; his outfit is adorned by glittering elements and resembles a DJ’s and, upon closer examination, is cluttered with drawings of his face spelling “moi” (the French pronoun used to stress “I [Me]”), an element repeated in his song. The stage turns blue, which gives his sequence a dreamy look and emphasizes his self-absorbed nature, while Moi, je sounds heavy, large and swelling — just as his ego.
The stage becomes a sickly green for a short time when the prince visits the tippler, whose planet is a trash heap of wine glasses and bottles; all elements in his visual and musical design are uneven, down to the hat. He audibly crashes behind the stage at the end of Je bois pour oublier .
Next is the businessman, whose planet looks like the wheel of a car and whose costume features stars just like the one he thinks he owns. Je suis un homme sérieux is a song defined by its mechanical structure: monotonous and stressed, reminiscent of the sound of money, numbers and calculators — and true enough, the only items on his planet are a large abacus and a long roll of calculations. The businessman’s ceaseless counting of big numbers in the novella is incorporated into the song, his obsession and preoccupation emphasized by him not stopping to breathe when replying to the little prince. Fittingly, the stars and planets in the backdrop are lit up with yellow; he doesn’t appreciate them for their beauty, after all, but as dead possessions that add to his wealth.
What follows is the encounter with the lamplighter; the backdrop turns completely blue to make the illuminated planet and the sole item on it, a street lamp that the man constantly turns on and off. C’est la consigne is a song with repetitive elements, with its notes repeatedly going up and down so as to signify the passage of time and the cycle the lamplighter is trapped in, just as his planet is the only one to visibly rotate. How devoted the man is to his job despite the toll it takes on him is reflected in his gestures and costume, which consists of wires and blinking lights as shoulder pads, and his abrupt collapse. I think it’s a far gentler song in contrast to the others in this part, which perhaps reflects the fact that he’s the only one among the six whom the little prince has sympathies for.
Lastly, the little prince meets the geographer, who resides on a planet weighed down by piles of books. Surprisingly and in stark contrast to all musical numbers in this part, almost the entirety of their conversation and the content of the novella’s chapter takes place before Je prends note sets in. Unlike the other songs, this one thus contains very few passages of the story and the verbal exchange and is instead almost entirely about the geographer’s passion. He also seems strangely self-aware of his perceived ignorance in the musical, as he refers to his office as a “prison”, mentions that he is “stuck behind a desk” and admits that he “knows nothing about his planet”. This is an odd way to portray the character because the impression I get from the original is that the geographer claims to be a man of vast knowledge, fully immersed in the book he’s hunched over, despite not having witnessed anything himself and relying entirely on outside input (which can be interpreted as merely regurgitating what others have said rather than thinking for yourself). “Je prends note” is a pun because he’s taking note in the sense of acknowledging things and writing them down.
As mentioned in the previous part, the prince leaves the geographer’s planet with his thoughts on his rose (just as in the novella), but his ex-post reflection and realization has been moved to this point. As in the original, the geographer points the little prince into the direction of the Earth, and I think it’s immensely touching that La terre , the song that links this section to the next, is sung first by the geographer, then by the pilot’s performer. What’s more, the geographer is the one to recite the beginning of the chapter that is full of numbers, whereas the pilot’s performer and his vast voice rave about earth and humanity’s qualities and potential as the little prince uses binoculars to look at the one solitary star in the universe. It’s touching because the second part is unique to the musical, and the song — that serves as a bridge — very much demonstrates the difference between grown-ups (represented by the geographer, but also by the other five people in this part of the journey), who are all about numbers and facts, and those who have retained the spirit of children (represented by the pilot), who treasure feelings, connections and personal appreciation.
[…] La Terre
Une légère goutte de boue
Perdue dans l’éther
Où tous les hommes se tiennent debout
Le temps d’un éclair
Dans cet univers
Ridicule et fière
A ne pas se taire
Cette mère nourricière
Qui nous enterre
C’est la Terre
A slight drop of mud
Lost in the ether
Where all men stand upright
Time flashes by
In this universe
Absurd and proud
Not keeping quiet [ceasing to speak]
This nourishing mother
Who buries us
That’s the Earth
And so the little prince reaches his final destination…
The time the little prince spends on Earth prior to returning to the desert and meeting the pilot is easily my favourite part of the musical: The scenes are significant, and pretty much all the songs are my top favourites. Ephémères initiates Act II by drawing attention to humanity’s, but also the Earth’s ephemerality. It is unique to the musical, and ties in to both the conversation between the geographer and the little prince regarding the ephemeral nature of his flower (the geographer having little regard for ephemerality, the little prince mourning it) and the preceding La terre , which stresses the miniscule impact of humanity and the Earth in the vastness of the universe, yet appreciates them all the more for it.
Upon arriving on Earth, the first creature the little prince meets is the snake, a prop handled by a flexible woman, whose black suit blends into the background. Their conversation is extended to include parts of previous chapter and the beginning of the chapter that they’re adapting due to the musical’s lack of a narrator during those parts. Le serpent plays as the snake watches over the sleeping prince. The lighting work here is beautiful because it shows the passage of time without the need to change backdrops.
I have a soft spot for L’echo because it’s a very short chapter in the novella, which makes its inclusion as a song unexpected. The lighting, the backdrop, the music and the inclusion of the echoes as part of the song make this a very lovely piece that portrays the prince’s loneliness as he traverses the desert in search for someone, anyone to talk to. It is immediately followed by the melodic Le jardin des roses , which plays at daybreak, mirroring the awakening of his own rose down to the song (La rose ). This, I feel, is the one song that best exemplifies how much a musical adaptation can add to the original written work; its emotional impact as the prince is hit by the full force of his rose’s memory is immense due to the combination of very strong acoustic and visual elements: The lighting, the lyrics and the blooming roses signify it’s morning; the song of the roses is a reprise, which conveys the prince’s confusion, his homesickness and his longing for his rose, but at the same time, the roses’ voices are subdued in contrast to the one on his planet (because they are void of personality and not unique); the prince’s first reaction when the tune starts playing is rejection and sadness, expressed by him covering his ears and going as far as trying to shush them — yet in contrast to La rose, where his rose was the dominant voice, he sings along now, no longer afraid of expressing his own views.
Apprivoise-moi is one of the most beautiful songs in the musical, and comes very close to being my favourite; it’s melodic and heartbreakingly earnest, and I love the fox’ gentle voice as he befriends the prince. The scenes with the fox were the ones I looked forward to the most when I watched the musical for the first time because they’re crucial: They’re the turning point of the prince’s journey, and it is through them that the novella speaks directly to the reader to teach them the most important of lessons. They are fundamental to understanding the prince — not as the person he was on his journey, but as the person he is when the narrator meets him at the beginning of the story, when we first meet him.
[…] Mais si tu sais m’apprivoiser
Ma vie sera ensoleillée
Je connaîtrai ton bruit de pas
Qui m’appellera hors du terrier
Et la blondeur des champs de blé
Me fera souvenir de toi
Enfin j’aimerai le bruit du vent
Qui viendra souffler dans ces champs […]
Apprivoise-moi je t’en prie
Si tu as besoin d’un ami
Et jusqu’à ma dernière seconde
Tu resteras unique au monde
Il nous faudra des rendez-vous
Pour pouvoir s’habiller le cœur
Et tous ces moments entre nous
M’apprendront le prix du bonheur
But if you are able [know how] to tame me
My life will be sunlit
I will know your footsteps
Which will call me out of the burrow
And the blond colour [blondness] of the wheat fields
Will remind me of you [make me remember you]
At last I will love the sound of the wind
Which will blow in these fields
Tame me, I beg you
If you need a friend
And until my very end [my last second]
You will remain unique in the world
We will need to have appointments
To prepare [dress] the heart
And all those moments between us
Will teach me the value of happiness
And true enough, Puisque c’est ma rose does this encounter justice; I love it dearly, it’s my favourite song on the list and my favourite duet. Clearly, the creators love the novella just as much as the viewer, because there is so much of the original dialogue in this song, preserving its complete sentences while retaining the melody of the song. The fox’ singing voice is beautiful, and I love the mask, the pauses, the gestures… The reason this is a duet is because it reinforces the lessons the little prince has learned from the time he has spent with the fox.
Puisque c’est ma rose
[…] Et à elle seule ma rose
Compte bien plus que tout […]
Pour nos adieux voici mon secret
On ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur
Il faut comprendre l’essentiel est
Invisible pour les yeux
Si les hommes oublient cette vérité
Toi tu ne dois pas l’oublier
C’est le temps perdu pour ta rose
Qui fait ta rose si importante
Tu deviens responsable pour toujours
De ce que tu as apprivoisé
Alors me voici responsable de ma rose à jamais
Puisque c’est elle que j’ai arrosée
Puisque c’est elle que j’ai protégée
Puisque c’est elle que j’ai écoutée
Puisque c’est ma rose
Puisque c’est elle que j’ai abritée
Puisque c’est elle que j’ai rassurée
Puisque c’est elle que j’ai aimée
Puisque c’est ma rose
Puisque c’est elle
Puisque c’est ma rose
Because it’s my rose
And my rose in herself alone
Is more important [counts more] than any other
For our parting, here’s my secret
One sees rightly only with the heart
You must understand that the essential is
Invisible to the eyes
If men forget this truth
You, you must not forget it
It is the time you have wasted [lost] for your rose
That makes your rose so important
You become responsible, forever
For what you have tamed
So I’ll forever be responsible for my rose
Because it is her that I watered
Because it is her that I protected
Because it is her that I listened to
Because it’s my rose
Because it is her that I sheltered
Because it is her that I reassured
Because it is her that I loved
Because it’s my rose
Because it is her
Because it’s my rose
At last, we return to the desert where the pilot and the prince met, and the final part of his journey — the anticipated return — is set in motion. Chercher la source is about the search, the thirst, the dark of the night, the prince’s fragility and how dear he has become to the pilot, and recognizing what’s important; it’s solemn and heavy, sung by the pilot as he tries to shield the little prince. Shortly afterwards is On aura toujours rendez-vous , the duet that defines their relationship and that is also their farewell, as it plays after the pilot discovers the prince’s deal with the snake and contains the fox’ lesson, which the prince now passes on to his new friend. The song is sorrowful and hopeful as they play together one last time and the little prince attempts to comfort the pilot.
On aura toujours rendez-vous
Mon petit prince qui viens du ciel
Des étoiles et des hirondelles
Tu as su redonner des ailes
A mes illusions de mortel
Moi, je suis tombé de nulle part
Ou d’une planète inconnue
Je repartirai pas hasard
Mais je ne t’oublierai jamais plus […]
Et même si je sors du décor
Et même si j’ai l’air d’être mort
Tu sais ce ne sera pas vrai
Puisqu’on a tous l’éternité
On a tous une rose dans le cœur
Ses volcans qui nous faisaient peur
Des tas de couchers de soleil
Nos vieux démons et nos merveilles […]
We will always meet
My little prince who has come from the sky
From the stars and the swallows
You knew how to restore [give back] the wings
Of my mortal illusions
Me, I fell out of nowhere
Or from an unknown planet
I will depart by chance
But I will never ever forget you
And although I leave the scenery
And although I will seem to be dead
You know that won’t be true
For we have all eternity
All of us have a rose in our heart
Our volcanoes that frighten us
A great many sunsets
Our old demons and our marvels
One last tribute to the departed prince is paid in Le plus beau et le plus triste paysage du monde . If there’s one song that convinces you of Daniel Lavoie’s (the pilot’s) immense voice power, it’s this one, for the song starts quietly, gently, ruefully — and grows into something tremendous, full of desperation, full of hope. As you may remember, the novella ends with a drawing of the place where the narrator first and last saw his friend — “the loveliest and saddest landscape in the world”; the beautiful thing is that the musical incorporates this by having the pilot draw in his notebook as he sings (complete with short pauses as he sketches) while the drawing itself appears, “stroke for stroke”, as a sketch made of light on the backdrop — and the pilot reaches out to it. It’s a very beautiful and creative translation of the ending scene.
Bonus material for the musical include a Making Of video as well as two music videos; you can watch them here, although there are no subtitles for the Making Of video (the music videos feature Puisque c’est ma rose and On aura toujours rendez-vous respectively, which are fully translated in the musical playlist). I appreciate it just as much as the musical itself, so I do recommend watching it — perhaps not in full if you don’t understand French (I can’t catch all of it either), but I’ll point out my observations below.
The Making Of video is edited in a way that allows you to relive the entire story; its music and clips are well-placed as the commentary is interlaced with corresponding tracks of the musical that fade in and out. The transition from space to the scenes that take place on Earth is particularly beautiful. It’s also very fun to watch because you get to see the performers close-up in different roles and without make-up (I like the performer who plays the rose better in the video than in the musical itself; perhaps the stage make-up is just too dramatic), and you get to see how well some of them get along. There are also some things you don’t get to see in the musical itself, such as the girl who plays the snake, or how everyone plays around with the Bilboquet, or the fox unmasked (WHO IS REALLY HANDSOME).
Above all, however, it’s insightful. Each performer/character has an individual feature in the clip, showing how they act out their role and train both their acting and singing so as to best convey the respective scene, repeatedly rehearsing the same scene differently; all the while, the composer gives a rundown on the songs and talks about the impressions he wanted to convey so that each piece has its own symbolism. You also hear the thoughts behind the directing and the creation of stage props and the costumes. The performer of the little prince also points out an interesting detail: The first encounter between the prince and the pilot is an application of the fox’ teachings, something that only exists in this form in the musical version due to the visual element. The fox taught the prince about the importance of rites and gradually closing the physical distance (rather than all at once), which is what we see when the little prince approaches the pilot hesitantly when asking him to draw a sheep.
One of the two music videos at the end is an edited clip that is a visual summary of the musical, whereas the other doesn’t take place on stage and instead features a scene in the desert between the pilot and the prince as they spend time together and walk hand in hand. It’s not clear whether it’s supposed to take place during the story or whether it’s an alternate ending altogether, though I do believe it to be the latter as there’s no sign of an airplane crash. I like to think of it as an alternate future where the two of them are able to meet again.
This shrine was created in September 2015.
Je ne t’oublierai jamais plus is a line from On aura toujours rendez-vous , the last duet between the narrator and the prince, and means I will never ever forget you. Jamais plus on its own can mean both never again (nevermore) as well as never ever. This fits the note on which the novella and the musical conclude — from the narrator’s and from the reader’s/viewer’s perspective considering how the story ends, but also considering what important messages Le Petit Prince conveys. The narrator and the reader won’t forget those messages even if they cannot see the prince ever again, but at the same time, they have gained things of importance: Never again will the narrator look up to the starry sky to find it as before, void of meaning and personal connections; the stars, the roses, the well — it is in the things he has come to associate with the little prince that the little prince will live on, and that is how they will always meet. It is by establishing bonds that we enrich our world, even if they aren’t everlasting.
I chose the colours of the content text with elements of Le Petit Prince in mind. The narrator is the colour of the desert at night, which is when he first meets the prince; the little prince is the figure who changes and grows as he makes new realizations and learns new things on his journey; the fox, represented by the colour of the wheat fields that signify his personal connection with the prince, teaches him the most important lessons; the rose, striking and sporting thorns, only maintains a strong physical presence at the beginning, though it is her to whom the prince (see mouseover colour change 8D) is linked at all times; and lastly, the well in the last part of the story is a symbol for something that has accompanied the prince on his entire journey even when he didn’t consciously connect it to the rose: his responsibility and his feelings for her, a result of having been invested in her — they are what colour his experiences and they are what give his world meaning, just as the well becomes a symbol for the things that colour each individual’s world: “What makes the desert beautiful,” said the little prince, “is that somewhere it hides a well…”
The header images are taken from one of the two music videos mentioned above. Special thanks to Mikari for looking into some code I had trouble with and successfully googling Bilboquet when I failed. 8D
Jamais Plus won Amassment’s Shrine Spotlight in May 2016!
If you would like to link this shrine, feel free to use one of the following buttons and direct it to http://prince.oubliette.nu/! Please do not direct link buttons.
If you own a site with Le Petit Prince or a musical (whether original or adaptation) as its focus and would like to affiliate, please message me!
Something Good is Robin’s shrine to the movie Sound of Music. By combining music videos from the movie itself and offering a look behind the scenes along with links for further reading, it is a good introduction to the subject matter!