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Animation 'most ambitious ever'

One of the world's favourite children's classics, Le Petit Prince, is being adapted for television

ONE of the world's favourite children's classics, Le Petit Prince, is being adapted for television on France 3 this Christmas.

Generations of children, and adults, have enjoyed aviator and author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's illustrated tale about a pure-hearted boy who leaves his asteroid home, where his only companion is a rose, to visit other planets, including Earth.

He discovers the strange ways of adults who put values like conformity and making money above friendship and imagination, but also makes new friends like a fox, who teaches him “you only see properly with the heart: what is essential is invisible to the eyes”.

The book has been translated into 220 languages and sold 134 million copies. A new animated series of 24 shows starts with a Christmas special. It does not recreate the same story as the book, but picks up where it left off, with the Little Prince having returned home to visit his rose.

The universe is in danger: the evil serpent from the book is putting out the stars one by one and the Little Prince sets out to save them, accompanied by the fox, visiting new planets on the way.

France Télévisions youth department director Julien Borde said: “It's a bit of a crazy gamble, one of the most ambitious animation projects ever, the first adaptation of a legendary book. That was intimidating, but it is a real success.”

As well as the new series, an animated 3D feature film of the book is being planned, with a €45m budget, for release in 2013.

Olivier Agay, Saint-Exupéry's nephew, said: “Before now, the courage and ambition to make a film version was lacking, but today we have a young and talented team with all the skills they need to succeed.”

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