Belle & Sebastien
June 14, 2014
2014 Youth Jury Award for Best Films4Families Feature: Grand Jury Prize | An inspiring story of a boy and his dog who guide Jewish refugees to safety across the alps, 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 thrill audiences of all ages.
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 ensemble. In this latest film adaptation by Nicolas Vanier, the setting has been shifted to World War II on the French/Swiss border. Sébastien (Félix Bossuet) lives with his grizzled grandfather, César (Tchéky Karyo), in a vertiginous mountain village and crosses paths with a giant, filthy Pyrenean Mountain Dog who the locals have dubbed “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 (Andreas Pietschmann), 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 thrill audiences of all ages.
Nicolas Vanier has made a name for himself filming the grandeur of the great outdoors—the colder the better. Born in Senegal, this French writer-director has focused on such topics as wolves in Siberia (Loup, 2009) and Canadian fur trappers (The Last Trapper, 2004). His latest film, Belle et Sébastien, is an adaptation of a beloved children’s story about a boy and his mountain dog in the French Alps.
- Original Language Title: Belle et Sébastien
- Director: Nicolas Vanier
- Principal Cast: Félix Bossuet, Tchéky Karyo, Mehdi El Glaoui
- Country: France
- Year: 2013
- Running Time: 99 minutes
- Producer: Clément Miserez, Matthieu Warter, Frédéric Brillion, Gilles Legrand
- Screenplay: Fabien Suarez, Juliette Sales, Nicolas Vanier (based on a novel by Cécile Aubry)
- Cinematographers: Eric Guichard
- Editors: Stéphanie Pedelacq, Raphaele Urtin
- Music: Armand Amar
- Website: Official Film Website
- Filmography: Loup (2009); L’Odyssée Sibérienne (2006); The Last Trapper (2004); L’Odyssée Blanche (1999); The Child of the Snows (1995); Au Nord de l’Hiver (1993)
- Language: French
- Has Subtitles: Yes
- Format: DCP
- International Sales: Gaumont