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!
Rating: PGLength: 104 Minutes
Director: Amma Asante
Writer: Misan Sagay
Buy on Amazon | Buy on iTunes
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. +
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
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.
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.
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.
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*
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.
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.
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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."
I am in love with the score for Belle. Composer Rachel Portman has absolutely captured the spirit of the film!