I have a few confessions. When I first received the invite to the screen of Belle, I had no idea what this movie was about. I saw the trailer. It looked amazing. I immediately said yes to the invite. And I tried to avoid reading anything about the movie until after I saw it. I’m one of those people who want to research any historical movie to within an inch of its life.
Thankfully I’ve been busy, otherwise the temptation to read more about the story would have gotten to me. As it was, I stayed up past my time reading everything I could once I got home after seeing the film. Belle is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed race daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay (Matthew Goode). She was raised by her great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson). Her father’s status afforded her some privilege, yet her race made her social standing far more complicated.
Although the film is considered historical fiction, the Zong massacre (a central plot point) was an all too real event. The dark themes present would lend themselves naturally to a completely different type of film. Belle, however, had warmth and surprising moments of humor. That isn’t to say that it didn’t take the subject matter seriously. The film was also completely beautiful to watch, both in costuming and locations.
Belle is in theaters now.