This week we are sharing our favorite movies, focusing specifically on movies with diverse casts.
I’m not a huge movie person. But every once and awhile I scroll through Netflix or On-demand and see what pops up. One night that movie was Belle. Belle is a beautiful period film from the 18th-century based on the life of a biracial woman named Dido Elizabeth Belle.
The movie is a true story and follows Dido’s life from the time her father, navy captain Sir John Lindsay, introduces the child as his own to his uncle, Lord Mansfield. The Lord and Lady then agree to raise the child as their own as she is brought up with another grandniece, Elizabeth Murray. Sir John then leaves to go back to battle and dies, never seeing Dido again.
The movie quickly skips to the time the 2 young women are of age to be paired up for marriage. Dido struggles with finding her place in her world as a member of a privileged family, yet without the same rights as Elizabeth. She asks the Lord “Papa, how may I be too high in rank to dine with the servants and to low to dine with my family?”
The movie’s most compelling scenes come from Dido learning about a horribly real case involving the Zong Slave Ship in which there was a mass murder of African slaves who were then claimed for life insurance purposes. The Lord is Chief Justice and for much of the movie Dido as well as a young lawyer, John Davinier, are on the opposite side of the issue. Since it is a true story I don’t think I am ruining anything by telling you the decision the Lord Chief Justice made forever changed issues in Britain regarding slavery.
The movie is very moving. Beautifully directed and shares a true story that I had never heard before. You can probably picture me, red wine in hand, weeping during many points of this story. This is a must see for anyone, but especially those of us with biracial or multiracial children. It is rated PG so while it is a difficult piece of history to discuss, it is suitable for children who are old enough to understand the subject.
Here is the trailer which will showcase what a beautiful performance Gugu Mbatha-Raw gives as Dido.
The movie is directed by Amma Asante.