BELLE is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Captain. 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.Written by
Fox Searchlight Pictures
An early version of the script was called Belle and Bette, and focused on the relationship between Dido and her cousin Elizabeth. See more »
The character Oliver Ashford states he has a commission in the Royal Navy purchased for him. Impossible as commissions have never been sold in the RN, which at the time was the nearest thing to a meritocracy the world had seen. Grease a few palms to get him in as a midshipman? Maybe. As a captain, never. Fleet boards had to be sat, idiots weeded out.
Commissions could be bought and sold in the cavalry and infantry but not, for instance, in the Royal Engineers. Soldiers could be lost to incompetence but not ships or bridges. Far too valuable. See more »
Captain Sir John Lindsay:
How lovely she is. So much of her mother. Do not be afraid. I am here to take you to a good life. A life that you were born to. Here.
[offers a candy]
[tries it with curiosity]
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I'm a film lover who's encouraged to see a story that reveals a piece of the history so often ignored. "Belle" is based on a true story. Since the history of slavery is not taught, films that deal with it - when done well - can be not only entertaining but also instructive. We need these stories! "Belle" is surprising, a piece in the grand puzzle of the history of the slave trade and its impact on the lives of all manner of people. Tom Wilkinson is as always wonderful... The other actors are all just fine. Gugu is lovely as Dido. The hypocrisy of the British upper class is on full display. The Zong Slave ship case is threaded through this film and opens another door on the horrors of the slave trade. That case alone deserves its own film but it would probably be too horrible to watch! I was reminded of all the pained experiences black children endured as they attempted to integrate public schools. The insults and denigration, the racist assumptions hurled at these students were nightmarish. Being the only black person in a sea of whites to this day can be challenging. "Belle" allows us to see and to imagine what that was like in England in the late 1700's. "Belle" was a blood relative and still she could not sit at the dinner table if guests were dining. There's much to learn here, much to think about.
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