to see it on the big screen. I intended to watch it on On Demand but then life
got busy and I missed it again. I finally saw Belle the other night on HBO.
not think it would be as good as it looked. Now that I have seen Belle I have to
offer my praise to the writer Misan Sagay, the director Amma Asante, and the
and an English member of the Royal Navy, an Admiral. Uncharacteristically he
truly loved Belle’s mother and he found Belle in Africa and he took her to
England to be raised by his uncle, her aristocratic Great Uncle. Her new guardian
is Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson), a barrister, and these events are happening
in the 18th century so perhaps you can imagine how difficult a
social task Belle’s father had assigned to his uncle. The Great Uncle is a good
man who fulfills responsibilities to his nephew once he has agreed to them. He
decides the child, Belle, will be known as Dido.
Uncle and his enlightened wife have another daughter the same age and the girls
grow up together. Mixed race and blonde – these things did not matter to the
cousins who were very close.
taken to London for the social “season”. They were fitted with a lovely
wardrobe and they attended endless teas, afternoon visits, shopping
expeditions, park promenades, assemblies and balls. This was how young men were
introduced to young women in these days when the innocence of a young woman had
to be carefully guarded until she married.
who did not have enough money would trade their good name to marry a young lady
heiress. Dido happens to be an heiress. Her father left her an income of 2,000
pounds per year. Her cousin, the lovely blonde Elizabeth (Sarah Gabon), has no
inheritance. So although England was in the slave trade and saw people with
darker skin as property, less than human, Dido did better than Sarah in the
marriage mart because of the living she inherited. At least it seemed that way.
neighbor, the vicar’s son, John Davinier (Sam Reid), has been learning the law
from Lord Mansfield. There is a case about to be tried in the courts. A ship
went down and all its cargo was lost. The cargo was insured. Should the
insurance company have to pay? Simple case, right? But the cargo was people,
African people, destined for the slave market. John Davinier had a huge
objection to looking at human beings as cargo. We can guess how Dido felt when
she learned about this case.
Dido’s Great Uncle and about Dido, about John Davinier and even about Sarah
turned this movie from just a nice period piece into something deeper and more
satisfying. This movie, Belle, is also based on a true story which made me like it even
more. My first thought was best; this movie was well worth seeing.