“Belle” is a new film by Fox Searchlight Pictures, that is a must see for every family. The movie is a true story, based on the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate daughter of a white Royal Navy Admiral and an enslaved African woman named Maria Belle in 18th century England.
View the trailer here:
After her mother’s death, Belle’s father, John Lindsay sends her to live with his uncle, an English aristocrat and his family. As a result, she moved from a life of poverty to a life of prestige and privilege. Her story unfolds as one of heartbreak and strong will, as she navigates her dual worlds of being raised a free woman, yet still held captive because of the color of her skin.
There’s so much to unpack with this film, as we follow Belle on her journey toward coming into her own, while grappling with the reality of her identity. The story line is layered with difficult issues we are still facing today, such as racism, interracial relationships, the historical significance of slavery, culture, status, patriarchy – the list goes on. There’s even a scene that addresses natural hair!
Gugu Mbatha-Raw delivers a stunning performance as Belle. She brings an authenticity to the role that breathes life into this intriguing woman’s story. The complexity of Belle’s struggle toward self-love despite so much hate around her is displayed brilliantly by Mbatha-Raw. The essence and beauty of Black womanhood is apparent with this film, as it directed and written by Black women (Amma Asante and Misan Sagay, respectively)!
The backdrop of the film is steeped in the battle against the British slave trade. This is poignant to the heart of the story, as it’s Belle’s great-uncle (Tom Wilkinson) at the helm of changing the outcome of the trade and her love interest (Sam Reid) who is set on challenging him to do what’s right.
I truly cannot say enough great things about this movie. It is well written with quality acting. There’s romance, suspense, history and humor interwoven throughout. The makeup and costuming are excellent as well. It felt believable and authentic, without feeling too sappy. More than anything, I left the theater feeling informed, proud and inspired. I was proud of Belle for her bravery, proud of her family for loving her, proud of her love interest for his conviction, proud of my heritage, proud to be Black!
If you’re looking for a great movie that you can watch with your spouse or your children as a family and walk away with a handful of conversation starters about love, courage, race, history (and so much more!) – make it your business to see “Belle,” in theaters, May 2, 2014! You will not be disappointed!