Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Young Bluestockings Attend the Cinema: BELLE

Here at NineteenTeen, we occasionally gather for a virtual tea-party, and discuss a historical film.  Please join us today as we discuss the gorgeous drama "Belle"!

Filmed in several of England's stately homes as well as Pinewood Studios, "Belle" has a true story as its kernel.  Dido Elizabeth Belle, the mixed-race daughter of a captain in the British Royal Navy, is orphaned, and then sent to be raised by her grandparents.   An ordinary-enough story, except that her grandparents are aristocrats -- and they live in an England which still had the slavery in its overseas colonies, and made great profits off the slave trade.

"Belle" starts with the few facts known about the real Dido Belle, and then creates a fascinating story of what her experiences growing up in England might have been.

The cast is full of well-known names.  Here are a few, to help your memory during the discussion!

Belle:  Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Lord Mansfield:  Tom Wilkinson
Lady Mansfield:  Emily Watson
Lady Ashford:  Miranda Richardson
James Ashford:  Tom Felton  (beware Slytherin!)
John Davinier (the love interest):  Sam Reid
Elizabeth Murray (the cousin):  Sarah Gadon

This film deals with issues of race, of class, of women's freedom and power, of justice, family, and love.  And of course it has those costumes!  And those gorgeous gardens and country houses.  Pretty much everything a person could want in a movie, if you ask me!


But we're not asking me, we're asking you!  Have you seen Belle?  What did you think?  What did you like, not like, want more of?  Did you like the way it handled serious issues?  And which hat would you like to wear?


Regina Scott said...

I really enjoyed this. The actress playing Dido did an outstanding job, in my opinion, of portraying the feelings of the times. She was raised as a lady, and she behaved like a lady, no matter how petty the people around her. I also thought it was interesting how "color blind" her cousin Elizabeth was. In the emotional scene where Dido tries to tell her cousin what a rat the man she loves is, Elizabeth claims all the hiding is because Dido is illegitimate, not because of her color.

Cara King said...

That's an interesting point, Regina! I imagine they did try to soften some of the racist language and sentiments some of the characters would have used.

And I agree about the main performance! I think Gugu Mbatha-Raw is a real star -- equally talented and gorgeous. I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot more of her in the years to come.

QNPoohBear said...

I love your comment "Beware Slytherin!" Poor Tom Felton reprises his role as Malfoy. I wrote a review of the movie after I saw it in the theater.http://bluestockingmusings.blogspot.com/2014/05/movie-review-belle.html I'm going to watch the DVD and see if there's any good commentary. The movie is highly fictionalized with the love story at it's core but yet it's true that Dido was a valued and loved member of the family.

Rachel said...

Hi! I just finished the movie a few moments ago. I thought it was a lovely story fictionizing what might have happened throughout her life.

Does Tom Felton ever play a nice man? If I was Dido I would have pushed him in the lake. Ugh...

I felt the cast was superb. How can you go wrong with such seasoned actresses/actors?!

I agree with Cara. I hope to see Ms. Gugu in films in the future.

Does anyone else feel that they should take up sewing classes?! Those costumes ae gorgeous!!!

Regina Scott said...

Loved the costumes too, Rachel! I can sew, but I don't think I could sew those. And I'd seriously need someone to make me an appropriate corset to get those lines. :-)