Belle & Sebastian (Belle et Sebastien) (Blu-ray) (2013)
|Year Of Production||2013|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Nicolas Vanier|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
French DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Dolby Digital 2.0
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
In the great rush of recent children's films from the US and other countries around the world there have been very few as sweet and beautiful as this French film, Belle et Sebastien, about a boy and his dog. It is an adventure, a war film (sort of) and the story of the love between a young boy and the dog he finds in the mountains. It is old fashioned, delightful and is comfortable with an uplifting ending rather than going for the tear-jerking that you usually see in films with a similar story line. I thoroughly enjoyed it as did my whole family including my sons who are 10 and nearly 12. They even coped with the subtitles without too much complaint (although an English dub is present on the disc). It is based on a novel by Cecile Aubry and is related to a television series of the same name which was quite popular in Britain during the 1960s. It is not a direct rendition of either as the location and some of the plot points have changed in this version.
The story is set in 1943 in the Alps in France, near the border with Switzerland. A young boy, Sebastian (Felix Bossuet), probably 8 or 9, has been orphaned by the war and lives with Cesar (Tcheky Karyo), who he refers to as his grandfather (but isn't really) and Cesar's daughter, Angelina (Margaux Chatelier). The local doctor, Doctor Guillame (Dmitri Storoge) also lives in the same house and is engaged to Angelina. They live in a small village high in the mountains where Cesar keeps a flock of sheep, assisted by Sebastian. The story begins with news of a wild dog loose in the mountains which Cesar believes is killing his sheep. A group of villagers led by the mayor are searching the mountains for the dog, to ensure the safety of their flocks by killing it. The story goes that the dog used to be owned by someone who mistreated it, so it ran away. One day, the boy happens upon the dog, known to the villagers as The Beast (played by a magnificent Pyrenean Mountain Dog) but he realises that the dog is not violent or aggressive. He decides to befriend it, dubbing it Belle, as it is female and they start exploring the mountains together. The Nazi's are occupying the area led by Lieutenant Peter (Andreas Pietschmann). They have two objectives, to supply their army by requisitioning bread from local bakeries (one of which is run by Angelina) and to stop Jews from escaping German control into Switzerland. Doctor Guillame is the local resistance and he spends his nights helping Jews to escape over the high, snowy mountain passes. As the plot lines collide, can Sebastian and Belle survive and stay together despite the challenges they face?
This is a beautiful film both due to the lovely adventure story for the whole family but also because of the magnificent cinematography and the wonderful scenery in the Alps which looks stunning on this Blu-ray. The acting is of good quality with the young boy acquitting himself well. The movie is tightly directed by Nicolas Vanier and is accompanied by some wonderful music by Armand Amar. The dog is a magnificent specimen of a rarely seen style of dog, certainly in this country. The story is exciting but doesn't go too far for young audiences as many films featuring Nazi's do.
The video quality is generally excellent with a couple of minor flaws on this Blu-ray version.
The feature is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio which is the original aspect ratio. It is 1080p.
The picture was very sharp and clear throughout really making the spectacular mountain scenery leap from the screen. The shadow detail was generally good however some scenes were very dark especially outdoor night scenes of which there were a few.
The colour is excellent, beautiful blues and greens of the mountains looking great on the transfer.
There was some minor motion blur and some occasional very minor aliasing.
There are subtitles in English which were clear and easy to read.
The audio quality is excellent (except the dire English dub).
This disc contains a French soundtrack in DTS HD-MA 5.1 which is wonderful along with an English dub in Dolby Digital 2.0. The dub is obviously technically significantly inferior but the voice acting is truly horrible. I cannot emphasise enough how much better this film is with the original French soundtrack in high definition surround sound.
Dialogue seemed clear and easy to understand throughout.
The music is dramatic and sounds wonderful in high definition.
The surround speakers were in fairly constant use for wind, mountain atmospherics, cracking ice and more.
The subwoofer was used mostly for music and the storm and ice based scenes.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu features music.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
There are both UK and French editions of this film available on Blu-ray. The UK version includes the English dub but no extras. The French version has some minor extras however these are probably not English friendly. May as well buy local.
The video quality is excellent.
The audio quality is excellent.The extras are lost in the French Alps.
|DVD||SONY BDP-S760 Blu-ray, using HDMI output|
|Display||Sharp LC52LE820X Quattron 52" Full HD LED-LCD TV . Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built into amplifier. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||Monitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer|