Belle and Sebastian (Belle et Sébastien)

Director(s): Nicolas Vanier
Country: France
Language: French w/ English subtitles
Live Action | 2013 | 104 min
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Historical
Recommended for ages 8+ (Parental Guidance: Threat of physical violence, tense moments)

There is perhaps no cinematic bond stronger than that of the friendship between a boy and his dog. For this reason, the novel “Belle et Sébastien” by actress and author Cécile Aubry has endured since the 1960s, inspiring several films, television series, and even the name of a Scottish indie music ensemble.

In this latest film adaptation by Nicolas Vanier, the setting has shifted to World War II on the French/Swiss border. Sébastien (Félix Bossuet) lives with his grizzled grandfather in a vertiginous mountain village and crosses paths with a giant, filthy Pyrenean mountain dog the locals call “The Beast” for allegedly killing livestock. Sébastien, however, sees something good in the misunderstood canine and eventually befriends the animal, naming her “Belle.” Their budding friendship is put to the test when Nazi occupiers march into town looking for members of the French Resistance who are guiding Jewish refugees to neighboring Switzerland. With their intimate knowledge of the nooks and crannies of the alpine valleys, Belle and Sébastien help point the way to safety, with the merciless SS officer, Lieutenant Peter, tracking them every step of the way.

Using 35mm film and jaw-dropping scenery from the Haute Maurienne-Vanoise region of France, Belle et Sébastien is a charming homage to the beloved live-action nature films of Disney, but with a pulse-pounding World War II subplot that will enthrall audiences of all ages.

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