Saturday, January 31, 2015

Belle (2013)

Trailers for Belle (2013) looked very interesting when I first saw them so I bought a DVD copy hoping it would be good but I actually didn't open the DVD for a couple months. I ended up watching Belle with my family over my Christmas break. A friend of mine actually mentioned he had watched it and that he thought I would really like it and he was right, we all enjoyed it. Belle (2013) is a beautiful film with a lot of heart sweet romance and history of slavery. If you like Amazing Grace (2005) then you will probably enjoy this film!

Story: Belle (2013) is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Captain. Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield and his wife, 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.

Costumes: Lovely Georgian styles! The ladies dresses are often a bit low as was the fashion but the materials and trimmings are lovely. Very rich and textured.

Scenes: A gorgeous film, the house and grounds where Dido grows up is amazing! Also the London house is lovely.

Music: Soundtrack composed by Rachel Portman (Emma 1996, Nicholas Nickleby 2002) but there's also pieces from Bach and Handel used in the film.

Inappropriate Content: It is mentioned briefly that Dido's parents were not married. Some slightly crude language and names are used. One gentlemen makes advances toward Dido proving his bad character. Talk of the hardships of slaves treated like cargo on board a ship.

Characters & Actors:
  • Matthew Goode as Captain Sir John Lindsay - Plays Dido's father and he's really only in the beginning of the film. Neat to see him in Belle (2013) and then watching Death Comes To Pemberley with my family (my second viewing, their first) and seeing him as George Wickham. 
  • Penelope Wilton as Lady Mary Murray - Dido's silly great-aunt. You'll recognize her from Pride & Prejudice (2005), Downton Abbey (TV series), Wives and Daughters.
  • Emily Watson as Lady Mansfield - Dido's aunt who cares for her as a mother. You'd recognize her from Miss Potter, The Book Thief and War Horse among others. 
  • Tom Wilkinson as Lord Mansfield - Dido's uncle who acts as her father since her own father died when she was young. He's played some creepy characters in the past so it's nice to seem him as a good although conflicted character. You'll recognize him from The Importance Of Being Earnest (2002), The Patriot, Sense & Sensibility (1995) and Martin Chuzzlewit (1994) among many others.
  • Sarah Gadon as Elizabeth Murray - Dido's cousin who she grows up with and is more of a sister. They fight sometimes but are always best friends. I've never seen her in any other period dramas.
  • Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Dido Elizabeth Belle - Our heroine, Dido is not only lovely but smart and of strong character. I've seen Gugu in Lost In Austen, Doctor Who and Marple: Ordeal By Innocence. 
  • Miranda Richardson as Lady Ashford - Pushy mother of two aristocratic brothers who are interested in Dido and Elizabeth, not a terribly nice character. You'll recognize her from The Young Victoria, The Phantom Of The Opera (2004) and The Lost Prince. 
  • James Norton as Oliver Ashford - He likes Dido quite a bit but it's hard to tell whether he likes her spunk or her money the best. James Norton played a big part in Death Comes To Pemberley, stars in 1950's era murder mystery series Granchester and seems to be popping up in more period dramas lately. I'd like to see him play a Jane Austen character but not sure which one I'd pick. 
  • Tom Felton as James Ashford - Elizabeth's love interested who is less than a gentleman. Tom is well known from the popular Harry Potter films.
  • Sam Reid as John Davinier - A young lawyer who  sounds a lot like an associate of William Wilberforce and sparks Dido's interest in political matters that have to do with slavery. The only thing I recognize this actor from is Marple: Greenshaw's Folly.
  • Alex Jennings as Lord Ashford - Father of the two aristocratic brothers, he's not in the film much but his face and voice are very recognizable! You'll remember him from Cranford and Return To Cranford among many other BBC productions. 

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed Belle (2013) although in some ways it was not what I expected. There wasn't as much tension about the slavery as I thought there would be and there thankfully wasn't much inappropriate content which there very well could have been. The heroine was spunky and her hero was honorable. There wasn't as much depth to the story as I thought there would be, but it was a sweet film overall. It did remind me of Amazing Grace (2006) because of the time period and the slavery aspect. It was interesting to view the world through the eyes of Dido, raised the equal of her aristocratic cousin but shunned by society because of her skin color. Definitely a new addition to my recommended period dramas list!

Have you seen Belle (2013)?
What did you like or dislike about it?
If you haven't seen this film are you planning to watch it?


Arwen Undomiel said...

I love this movie so much! Glad someone else has seen and enjoyed it:)

By the way, I've nominated you for the blogger recognition award on my blog:D

Naomi Bennet said...

Oh my, Miss Laurie, I was so glad to see a post of yours in my dashboard again! Tis been too long. :-) Are you back to blogging regularly? I'm missing your games. :-(

Anyway, great review, as always. I haven't watched this, but I've heard loads about it, and I absolutely can't wait to see it. And no major inappropriate issues! I'm so glad!
Oh, and so many good actors... yup, I HAVE to see this, and soon.

Wow, I love your blog. I've suddenly realised how much I missed it.

~ Naomi

Homeschool Mom said...

I haven't heard of this particular production--thanks for telling us about it. My daughter is really getting interested in period drama and in British television (but you do have to be so careful with regard to content). So glad to see you posting. Hope you are safe and warm in this winter weather.

Net, the Movie Blogger said...

I am so glad to see your post! I was hoping you would return to blogging! You have such a lovely blog and I always enjoy your ideas and reviews! :)

Speaking of reviews, I was wondering about this movie, Belle. I appreciate your comments on it... As it does seem interesting. Also, as you mentioned, I, too, wish in these period pieces they wouldn't have the dresses so low cut. Overall, this looks like an intriguing film.

God's Blessings to you!!!

It's a Wonderful Movie"

paperdoll mom said...

Surprisingly, I have somehow missed hearing about this movie. It looks interesting!

Suzanne said...

Thank you, I was on the fence about this movie. Your review convinced me I might like it. I did love Amazing Grace and I am enjoying Norton playing the Priest in Grantchester.

Ella said...

I have heard so many good things about this movie! I hope to watch it soon.

Glad to see your blogging again, Miss Laurie, by the way:)

Hamlette said...

I haven't seen this yet, but I really want to. Thanks for the great review!

Manette said...

Reading your review prompted me to see this film, and I'm glad I did! Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays her part beautifully, and so does the little girl who plays young Dido. I've also liked Emily Watson immensely in every role I've seen her play.

It's quite awesome that this film is based on a true story (though no doubt artistic license was taken here and there) and when I did a little online research on Dido Belle I found out that Davinier was actually French, which brought a little extra complications to their relationship because Frenchmen weren't looked upon very favorably in Britain at the time. I think they could have used this aspect in the film to great advantage, but perhaps they felt they had enough material already, with Dido's complicated social position and the case of the slave ship.

I adored the look of this film. The locations are gorgeous and the costumes are just lovely, especially Dido's pink dress.

Plot-wise, I think it was a little too obvious from the beginning that Dido and Davinier would end up together, but the difficulty of Dido's position was handled very well and it was interesting to learn that the ship thing that happens here had a real impact in abolishing slavery.

Kelly-Anne said...

Oh, I absolutely adored this beautiful film, and I actually wrote a review on it sometime ago now... It is among my favourites for sure! I dearly loved John Davinier...such a good, honest character...and Belle...she is special!
One thing I very much disliked, though, was the amount of cleavage that was shown, but apart from that, Belle is Highly recommended by me too!
I am enjoying your blog Miss Laurie! Blessings!

Renee Faison said...

Loved it. I bought the DVD at Walmart and have recently watched it repeatedly. I'm somewhat of a romantic so that storyline suits my taste. I did see it in the theater also. I think the acting was superb from all characters, but especially Dido and John. Such passionate portrayals. Did anyone notice how Aunt Mary quietly egged on Dido's and John's relationship?

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