April 28, 2015

Tune in Tonight: Belle

I've always loved talking about movies and TV shows on my blog, but it wasn't until I guest posted for Book People Talk Movies (created by Lindsey from Bring My Books) that I even thought about making it a regular thing. But now I can't wait to share my absolute favorite movies - both old and new - with you every month! 

The Stats

Belle (2013)
Rating: PG
Length: 104 Minutes
Genre: Drama
Director: Amma Asante
Writer: Misan Sagay
Buy on Amazon | Buy on iTunes

The Story 

Belle is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizebeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral. Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson), Belle's lineage affords her certain privileges, yet the color of her skin prevents her from fully participating in the traditions of her social standing. Left to wonder if she will ever find love, Belle falls for an idealistic young vicar's son bent on change who, with her help, shapes Lord Mansfield's role as Lord Chief Justice to end slavery in England. +

The Stars

Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Dido Belle Lindsay
Sam Reid as John Davinier
Tom Wilkinson as Lord Mansfield
Emily Watson as Lady Mansfield


Sarah Gadon as Elizabeth Murray
James Norton as Oliver Ashford
Tom Felton as James Ashford
Matthew Goode as Captain Sir John Lindsay

The Sneak Peek


The Sell

Belle is one of my favorite movies, and I'm going to give you six reasons you need to watch it!
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1. THE STORY / SCRIPT - Belle is aptly named after the woman at the center of the story: Dido Belle Lindsay. She was the daughter of an enslaved African woman in the West Indies and a British career naval officer stationed there. When Lindsay returned to England, he brought Dido with him to be raised by his uncle and aunt with their other niece. This movie was inspired by a true story, and she was a real woman.

While very little is known of her life, the movie explores her unique (and difficult) position in society. She is an position of fortune, but she is also of mixed race. She is, as she says in the movie, "too high of rank to dine with the servants, but too low of rank to dine with my own family." Belle examines Dido's insecurity and anger over her position. She cannot enjoy her wealth and privilege the more she learns of slavery and sees the injustice around her. And outside her family (and even sometimes within it) she is dismissed because of her color. This movie would be worth watching for its representation of racism and social inequality alone.

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2. THE HEROINE - I absolutely loved Dido! While I have no idea what the real woman was like, her movie counterpart is fascinating and admirable. She is intelligent and driven to know more of the world around her. She has a sharp tongue - calling attention to injustice, putting people in their place and proving that she knows her own mind. She stands up for herself and for her own heart. I ached for her pain, admired her fire and cheered her on every second of this movie. If you love strong heroines, you need to meet Dido.

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3. THE COSTUMES - I'm a huge fan of costume dramas, and that's the main reason I wanted to watch this movie in the first place. The story moved me, and the costumes delighted me. It surpassed my highest expectations! Costume designer Anushia Nieradzik has made this movie a feast for the eyes. There was so much to look at in every scene, but I couldn't take my eyes off the gowns. In fact, I had to watch this twice in two days just to take it all in. If you love period pieces, add this one to your list immediately.

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4. THE ROMANCE - Despite its weighty subject matter, there's still a love story in Belle... and it's one of my favorites. Dido believes she must marry, but who will choose her for a bride and will it be for the right reasons? Watching her find someone who treats her as an equal and loves every part of her is so incredibly romantic. I was scared that she would end up with someone who didn't deserve her, but the love interest is seriously swoonworthy. I don't want to tell you all the reasons you'll love him, so just trust me. The scene where he declares his love is so good that I watched it at least five times, and the ending is even better. *sigh*

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5. THE SETS - Sometimes I love watching costume dramas just so I can admire the sets, and Belle definitely gave me house envy. There were times I wanted to pause the movie and just look at all the details in the room. From the paintings on the walls to the rugs on the floors, I was in decorating heaven.

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6. THE CINEMATOGRAPHY - This movie, as a whole, is just gorgeous! I don't even have much to say about this item on the list, but I felt like it had to be included. If you can't tell from this picture alone, I don't know what else to say to convince you! Belle is a delight to watch and embodies why I love this type of movie.

The Snippets


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Dido: "You feel my circumstances are unfortunate, though I cannot claim even a portion of the misfortune of those whom I most closely resemble. My greatest misfortune would be to marry into a family who would carry me as their shame, as I have been required to carry my own mother. Her apparent crime to be born Negro, and mine to be the evidence. Since I wish to deny her no more than I wish to deny myself, you will pardon me for wanting a husband who feels forgiveness of my bloodline is both unnecessary and without grace."

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John Davinier: "Laws that allow us to diminish the humanity of anybody are not laws. They are frameworks for crime. And quite frankly, I really do not care if you as an individual are without character or conscience. But a land whose laws sanction, not control, the barbarous among its citizens, that is a country whose hope is lost."

The Score

I am in love with the score for Belle. Composer Rachel Portman has absolutely captured the spirit of the film!


7 comments:

  1. Ah! I need to watch this movie!!!!!!! I remember seeing the trailer for it, and knew that I needed to watch it! AHH! Thanks for the reminder, Hannah!

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  2. I need to see Belle! I definitely think that it sounds like an amazing film, and all the reasons you've listed are certainly reasons for me to take an interest in it. Thanks for sharing your love for it! I hope I fall in love with it too :)

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  3. I am so excited to watch this! It sounds amazing and something up my alley! Thanks for sharing, Hannah.

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  4. FLAIL TIME!!!!

    Fun Fact: Sam Reid and I followed each other on Instagram and shared photos, normal life. Basically, we were buds. But then he opened his Instagram account to the public, freaked out, sent a goodbye message, and now he's no longer there...wahwah. I'm just upset I don't have screenshots to prove this! (Except not, but still. We bonded over our European tour shots.)

    1. Basically everything I want to say about the story and script is broken down in your other subcategories, so I'll save my thoughts for those! EXCEPT: I saw the movie the first time thinking it was an Austen-esque period romance featuring a black woman. I was totally blown away with the direction and TRUE story and the execution and EVERYTHING that I went back again and again to savor it. A pleasant surprise!

    2. Dido is phenomenal. Her position really is a unique one. First, her sex: she must marry, be an old maid, or an heiress. She must marry well if she's not an heiress, or marry whomever if she has the means. She IS an heiress, BUT... Second, her race: she's mulatto. As a white, she has privilege. As a black, she's of the lowest class. So a black heiress could do whatever she pleased, and yet she'd be judged for it. BUT... Third, she's a bastard child. The only thing keeping her from the streets is that her father acknowledged her. Like she said to her cousin, she is of higher rank because of wealth and family name, and yet she is of the lowest rank because of her skin. SO COMPLEX.

    3. The costumes really are beautiful. With every year a costume drama comes out, they become even more historically accurate and class defining (if that makes sense). But this one just...ugh. It stands out. I'm in love!

    4. "I LOVE HER. I LOVE HER WITH EVERY BREATH I BREATHE."

    5. Makes you want to move to a country house in England, doesn't it? Let's go!

    6. It really is, truly, a work of art!

    ALL THE FLAILS. ALL THE QUOTES. ALL THE MUSIC. ALL. ALL OF IT. I'm OBSESSED with Belle and I'm so glad you love it!!!

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  5. I have "Belle" in my queue because YES, period dramas, but also, YES, Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Have you watched "Beyond the Lights"? Easily one of my favorite movies of recent watching. Gugu stars as a Rihanna-esq pop singer who's struggling with fame, and ugh, it's so great.

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  6. I had almost forgotten about this movie! I remember seeing previews for it and wanting to watch it, but that never actually happened. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure this was actually based on a book, although I'm not sure if it was non-fiction or fiction, it might be worth checking out.

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