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?

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