Belle and Sébastien. Dir. Nicolas Vanier. Gaumont. 2013.

Belle and Sébastien is an action and adventure children’s film that touches on animal bond and servitude. During the era of German soldiers raiding French towns for Jewish refugees, the townsmen of a southern French town are hunting for a beast – Belle, a Great Pyrenees dog gone feral. They believed she was the killer of their flocks despite their ignorance about Belles’s natural born instinct of herding livestock. They did not take the time to investigate what she really was. Sébastien displays a childlike sense of innocence and continued to ignore his elders. The moment where Belle and Sébastien have their first encounter unveils an unexplainable connection between them. Belle hovers over a rock and growls at Sébastien to grab his attention; Sébastien turns to look at her. The two stare into each other’s eyes for an extended period of time before he starts to causally talk to her. This connection is driven from the idea that they are each other’s “missing link” – Sébastien a mother, Belle an owner. They can be each other’s companion that makes them stronger when together.

Their strong connection is a subtle demonstration of the typical “man’s best friend” trend found in many adventure films that include dogs. This introductory scene of the lead character duo, establishes that the two are inseparable from the start and provides a deep level of understanding from both Belle and Sébastien. This long stare mimics the iconic romantic pause when two soul mates meet, signifying that Sébastien cannot live without Belle and vice versa. It sets up the following scenes for their relationship and also prepares the audience for these two particular characters to have a connection of significance for the film. This is the director’s way of indicating which characters and relationships are the ones that are important and should be closely paid attention to.

Throughout the film, Belle serves as a protector for Sébastien while he tries to prove her innocence and claim her as his own. From the start, Belle could have attacked Sébastien as easily as he could have turned her in to the townsmen, however, their connection they experienced from their first impression continues to grow throughout the plot of the film. This is shown by a series of events where they mutually help each other accomplish different tasks. Belle and Sébastien’s first encounter is significant due to the fact had they met under different circumstances, their relationship could have had a different dynamic.