The Belstone Fox

Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
The Belstone Fox Movie Poster Image
'70s drama about fox-dog friendship has very intense scenes.
  • PG
  • 1973
  • 99 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Loyalty, friendship, respect for nature.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Some characters are kind animal lovers, while others are more ruthless or opportunistic.

Violence

Particularly disturbing and bloody scene shows mangled dogs thrown and run over by a train, some dead and lifeless, some whimpering and struggling. A man hands another man a gun to put one struggling dog out of its misery; he's shown pointing it at the dog's head (the sound of the shot occurs offscreen). A man collapses and dies (shown with blood coming out of the corner of his mouth) and later is carried out of a cave. A man cuts a caught fox's tail off, which is shown, bloody. Several intense scenes of dogs chasing foxes, swarming and attacking. Several men fall off horses during stampedes; one fallen horse.

Sex

Party scene features a woman with cleavage dancing around in a few shots. A man and woman kiss briefly.

Language

"Damn," "bloody," "damnedest," "my God."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Casual pipe and cigarette smoking; casual drinking in a few scenes at a home and a bar. Party scene shows a very inebriated man, who passes out.

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.

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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?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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