I finally watched this movie today. I streamed it from Amazon. I really meant to see Belle when it was in the movie theaters, but it was pulled just as I was going to see it with a co-worker. Belle is based on the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, who was the daughter of an enslaved African woman named Maria Bell, and a wealthy white English Navy Admiral named John Lindsay. The real Dido Belle can be seen in the painting below that she posed for with her cousin, Elizabeth Murray, in 1778.
Dido Belle’s father, John Lindsay, was a married man, but the couple never had any children between them. However, John Lindsay had three illegitimate children by three different women. As far as I can tell, Dido was the only one of mixed race.
Belle was directed by Amma Asante, and stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw in the title role of Dido Belle. The movie was filmed in the United Kingdom and grossed $15,500,793.00 at the box office. It first debuted on 2013 at the International Film Festival before being released world-wide in June 2014.
I enjoyed watching Belle, but I was a bit disappointed in it. While it is a good movie, I feel that it lacks quite a bit of depth. The true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle is a very fascinating one, but the movie fell a little flat to me. The movie was also done in a way that was very predictable. It is still a very touching production never the less.
In the above screen cap John Lindsay brings his young daughter Dido to live with his Uncle, who is the First Earl of Mansfield and Chief Justice of England. Lord Mansfield and his wife are already raising their other niece Elizabeth Murray. John Lindsay’s career as a Navy Admiral keeps him continually at sea. He requests that his uncle raise Dido as one of the family. Dido does enjoy many privileges such as being raised as a lady and being well-educated. However, as a mixed race girl there are restrictions. Dido is not allowed to eat meals with her family, and she is considered not good enough to marry a gentleman.
Dido grew up with her cousin Elizabeth Murray, and they were very close throughout their lives.
There is sweet romance in Belle, which is always a great touch to any movie for me. Sam Reid plays the role of John Davinier and does a great job. He is handsome and his personality is passionate about his beliefs and about Dido. In the movie it states that Dido and John Davinier had two sons, but they actually had three.
Despite the privilege that she experiences Dido is certainly off-put by the slave trade. Her great-uncle, Lord Mansfield, plays a huge part in dismantling the slave trade in England.
The period costumes in Belle are absolutely stunning.
om Wilkinson gives a good performance in the role of Lord Mansfield. He is very convincing as a dignified member of the English gentry, and well-education judge. His love for his great-niece, Dido, is also very apparent.
The original painting of Dido Belle and her cousin Elizabeth Murray was painted in 1778. It now hangs in Sconce Palace, Perthshire, Scotland. There is a great article about Dido, which you can read by clicking on The Telegraph.
I’m glad that Dido’s story has finally been told.