A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Belstone Fox features a bloody, disturbing scene where dogs are run over by a train and are shown, some dead, some hurt and whimpering. One is shot to end his suffering, with the shot heard offscreen. There are some intense scenes of dogs chasing foxes, people being thrown from horses, a fallen horse, and a man cutting the tail off a caught fox. There's casual drinking and smoking. It's largely a story about the unique friendship between a stray fox and a crew of dogs and their hunter owners, but it's too intense and dark in some places for younger kids.
What's the story?
When a stray fox is brought to the home of hunter Asher Smith (Eric Porter) and his crew of English hunting dogs, he expects the dogs to devour it. Instead, one dog, Tag, forms a deep friendship with the fox, named Merlin. But when hunting season returns, his owners insist that Tag do what he was trained to do, even if it now means making Merlin his enemy.
Is it any good?
THE BELSTONE FOX is a unique movie about human and animal friendship. Here is a fox raised with dogs, only for the dogs to still have to hunt foxes after discovering they can bond. What follows is a wily tale of foxes outsmarting dogs and dogs conflicted by their loyalties to their masters and an animal they now consider a friend. It forces the humans in the film to think differently about how animals think and bond, and, in many ways, this earns the animals a newfound respect from their owners.
There are some intense scenes of chases and one particular graphic, bloody scene of dog deaths that is much too disturbing for young kids, but for older kids able to stomach that (or look away) there are some particularly nuanced elements to the relationships here that likely will make viewers reevaluate their feelings toward hunting for sport, if they haven't already.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about fox hunting. How does the film portray fox hunting? Do you think it should be allowed? Why, or why not?
What did you think of the friendship between Tag and the fox? Why were they able to be friends?
How did the film portray animal intelligence? Do you think it was accurate? Why, or why not?
- In theaters: February 4, 1973
- On DVD or streaming: July 16, 2013
- Cast: Jeremy Kemp, Bill Travers, Eric Porter
- Director: James Hill
- Studio: VCI Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Adventures, Book Characters, Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Friendship, Science and Nature, Wild Animals
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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