BELLE AND SEBASTIEN 3, LE DERNIERE CHAPITRE/ BELLE AND SEBASTIEN, FRIENDS FOR LIFE, France, 2017. Starring Felix Bossuet, Tcheky Karyo, Clovis Cornillac, Thierry Neuvic, Margo Chatelier, Andre Penvern. Directed by Clovis Cornillac. 97 minutes, Rated PG (Mild themes and violence).
The Belle and Sebastien books have been very popular in France for many decades, an earlier film version made in 1981. They are based on a series by French actress, Cecile Aubry. She also wrote the lyrics for the songs throughout the film.
Followers of French films will have seen the first two films in this trilogy. In 2013, the first was released, focusing on the experience of the young boy, Sebastien, at the age of six, living in the snowclad Alps, experience in World War II and German occupation and the rescue of French flyers. The role of Sebastian was played by a very young Felix Bossuet who continued in the role in the two subsequent films. His quite an engaging screen presence. Actually, so is Belle, the beautiful, white powerful dog that he befriends.
The second film, Belle and Sebastien, The Adventure Continues was released in 2015. The action moves forward to the end of World War II and Sebastien, again with Belle, anticipating the return of his friend, Angelina, from her flying action during the war.
While this third film does open with Sebastien’s birth, difficult situation in the stormy mountains, his mother dying, the wayfaring shepherd, Cesar (Tcheky Karyo in all three films) rescues the boy and brings him up, a grandfather-figure.
There is some comedy with Andre Penvern as the mayor.
This time, Sebastien is 12. Belle has had a litter of pups. Sebastian goes to school but would prefer to be out in the mountains and his ambition is to become a shepherd like his grandfather. However, Angelina is about to marry Sebastien’s father and the boy overhears their plans that they will move to Canada, taking the boy with him. He decides to run away – especially since a very sinister figure arrives, claiming that Belle is his dog and that he will take her and the pups.
The director of the film, actor Clovis Cornillac, portrays this sinister figure, black coat, black shirt, black trousers, black beard, black hat and hair, glowering eyes, towering presence, a frightening figure for children. (It is obvious that the Cornillac is enjoying his role as actor.).
This means that there is quite some tension at the end, the dangers of the confrontation, the risks in testing the villain.
While the film can stand on its own, sufficient explanation is given in the screenplay, it will be more pleasing for those audiences who have seen the previous two films.
Icon Released June 28th
Peter Malone MSC is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.