Review / Belle and Sebastian (PG)  *** and a half

boy and dog

THE origin of this charming film was a 1965 French TV series about a boy, a Pyrenean mountain dog and the people of a remote village high in the French Alps near the Swiss border, elements which now get affectionate treatment from writer/director Nicholas Vanier whose filmography includes documentaries about cold-climate wildlife.

The men of the village have been scouring the mountains trying to find and kill the beast which has been killing their sheep. Living with grandfather César (Tchéki Karyo), six-years-old Sebastian (Félix Bossuet), a child of remarkable courage and mountain country savvy, finds a big dog which fears humans after being mistreated in another village.

Belle-and-Seb 2The story begins in August, 1943. Stationed nearby, Wehrmacht Lieutenant Peter (Andreas Peitschmann) visits the village frequently, as much for the chance to see César’s lovely daughter Angelina (Margaux Chatelier) in the village bakery as to commandeer a regular supply of bread for his troops.

And up in the mountains, a small family of refugees awaits a guide to lead them to freedom across the border.

The film spends a goodly part of its time luxuriating among spectacular Alpine scenery. Its simple plot offers a variety of excitements – vertiginous heights, an avalanche, a snow bridge likely to collapse into a crevasse – that children will have no difficulty understanding. It’s one for every age to enjoy, with credibility not diminished by occasional dramatic contrivance.

At Dendy and Capitol 6

 

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