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
The Zong massacre case, known officially as Gregson v. Gilbert (1783), was not the landmark, pro-abolition decision the film portrayed it to be. It avoided the issue of slavery altogether, and never actually reached a final decision. Lord Chief Justice William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, called for another trial which never came to court. It is assumed that the matter was settled privately. Lord Mansfield presided over an earlier case that became very important to the abolitionist movement. In Somerset v. Stewart (1772), Lord Mansfield concluded that slavery could only be legal through statute, and since such statute did not exist, there was no legal basis for slavery in England and Wales. The film steals a line from Somerset v. Stewart and uses it in Gregson v. Gilbert to use the wider implications of Somerset v. Stewart for dramatic effect. In the film, Lord Mansfield's judgment shows that there was enough evidence to suggest that the slavers committed fraud, and that Lord Mansfield personally disliked the idea of slavery. He says nothing about the legality of slavery in England and Wales, or the legality of insuring humans as cargo. See more »
When Elizabeth and Dido play the piano, it sounds like a large modern piano, not the small 18th-century piano onscreen. Its keys look very old, even though pianos had existed for a few decades, and had just become popular. Most pianos in use at the time would have been fairly new. 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 wanted to see this movie because it is a period piece. I did not know that it is based on a true story . I loved the settings, the costumes, the writing and the acting. A well written story of the start of the road to abolishing slavery in England. The Story of DIdo - the caring aunt and uncle who took her under their roof, the other niece who they are raising also and how she develops into a beautiful and very smart lady. I'm sure the reactions by the people at that time were presented accurately. Dido was not allowed to eat with company but could with just the family. The courting of the women when they were of that age was interesting to watch and the conniving by the mother of the two -oh so different men in the name of wanting more money to come from the women. I especially like the intelligence of Dido and how it came out in the age of when women were not to be involved in politics or anything other than the home. A beautifully photographed film.
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