Belle and Sebastien

BELLE AND SEBASTIEN, THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES…,  France, 2015.  Starring Felix Bossuet, Tcheky Karyo, Thierry Neuvic, Directed by Christian Duguay. 97 minutes.  Rated PG (Mild themes and coarse language).

For audiences who enjoyed the original Belle and Sebastien, this sequel, the continuance of the adventure, will be very welcome. Characters are back, the young boy, Sebastien, his adoptive grandfather, Cesar, and, of course, the huge and affable dog, Belle.

This time the setting is after World War II in the Rhone-Alps area of France near the Italian border. Those who appreciate beautiful scenery, will find a great deal of satisfaction here, the sweep of the mountains, the crags, the beautiful green fields, the country village.and, as the mood changes and the plot develops, there is a transition from a piano accompaniment to in an intense repetitive orchestral urgency.

Sebastien is now ten and avoids going to school, preferring to slide down a mountainside on a home-made sled, more than a touch reckless and saved from the great fall by Belle. In the meantime, Cesar’s niece who has been fighting in the resistance during the war is returning home on an American plane which crashes into the mountainous forest. Everyone is presumed dead – except by Sebastien and Cesar.

Most of the film concerns the search, the old man going to a local pilot, Pierre, and paying him to fly over the crash site – with, of course, Sebastien and Belle’s stowing away, rather disastrous since Pierre has an antipathy towards dogs. Again, almost disaster, with Sebastien reckless again, stubborn and wilful.

Before they go to ask Pierre to fly over the site, Cesar explains to Sebastien that Pierre is his father – they think that Pierre abandoned Sebastien’s mother, but there is more explanation as the film goes on.

As they go through the forest, they encounter a young girl taking refuge up a tree from a grizzly bear, an Italian girl who belongs to a group of lumberjacks working in the forest but prevented from working by the forest fire set by the crashing plane. She becomes an ally in the search.

There is some peril with the fire, but Belle going in to find the cave with orange smoke coming, a flare signalling survival. And, continuing the peril, their continued dangers from fire as well as escaping suffocating smoke in the cave.

Apart from the film being a physical journey adventure, it is an emotional adventure for Sebastien as he clashes with his father, begins to work with him, and discovers that he really needs a strong father figure.

Very French, but a family film that does not rely on more obvious emotions and excitement that we tend to associate with more upfront American family films.

Icon   Released June 30th

Peter Malone MSC is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.

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