Belle & Sebastian

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Belle & Sebastian

It’s the depths of World War II and in a French alpine village the locals have two enemies to face: the German occupiers trying to stop refugees being smuggled over the mountains into Switzerland and “the Beast”, a giant wild dog killing the farmers’ sheep. But when six-year-old Sebastian (Félix Bossuet) discovers that the dog isn’t the real culprit behind the sheep killings, he must protect his new friend (now named Belle) from hunters, German soldiers, and his own grandfather.
This film is loosely based on the much-loved French children’s novel, which was later turned into a successful television series (though neither of them featured Nazis), and for the most part it’s a fun romp that takes full advantage of some gorgeously stunning Alpine scenery to tell a warm-hearted shaggy dog story. It’s aimed firmly at kids: adults might find Belle’s transformation from grey-furred monster to a snow-white hound straight out of a shampoo commercial hilarious. And the way these Nazis reverse the usual stereotype – here the officers are decent while their men are the ones going well beyond their orders to be as evil as possible – is a little unusual. But as the story of a boy and his dog having adventures on a mountain, this has an unmistakable, irresistible charm.