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Belle (2013)

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The mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral is raised by her aristocratic great-uncle in 18th century England.

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4,738 ( 525)
14 wins & 27 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Lauren Julien-Box ...
Natasha Williams ...
Poor Woman
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Harry
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Lady Mary Murray
Cara Jenkins ...
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Lady Mansfield
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Lady Ashford
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Oliver Ashford
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Timothy Walker ...
Wimbridge
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Storyline

BELLE is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Captain. Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson), 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. Written by Fox Searchlight Pictures

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements, some language and brief smoking images | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

13 June 2014 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Dido Elizabeth Belle  »

Box Office

Budget:

$10,900,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$106,578 (USA) (4 May 2014)

Gross:

$10,726,630 (USA)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sam Claflin was initially cast as John Davinier. He dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. See more »

Goofs

When Elizabeth and Dido play the piano, it sounds like a large modern piano, not the small 18th-century piano onscreen. Its keys look very old, even though pianos had existed for a few decades, and had just become popular. Most pianos in use at the time would have been fairly new. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Captain Sir John Lindsay: How lovely she is. So much of her mother. Do not be afraid. I am here to take you to a good life. A life that you were born to. Here.
[offers a candy]
Young Dido: [tries it with curiosity]
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Connections

Featured in The EE British Academy Film Awards (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Concerto Grosso Op. 6, No. 11 in A Major, HWV 329, Andante Larghetto
Composed by George Frideric Handel
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User Reviews

 
Mbatha-Raw drives the film
9 May 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

In years hence, audiences will be able to point to this film, as the moment the world knew Gugu Mbatha-Raw was going to be big. Belle is Amma Asante's feature-length directorial debut, and her work here is astonishingly confident. Tackling a period piece may seem daunting to most, but in Asante's case, she has the benefit of a top-notch cast, and a truly fascinating story. Loosely based on the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, Dido was the daughter of an enslaved African woman and an English admiral.

As the film begins, although she is born illegitimate, Dido's father (Matthew Goode, Stoker) gives her over into the care of his great-uncle, William Murray, the first Earl of Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson), who acts as the Lord Chief Justice of the British courts. As she grows into a young woman, Dido's life at the palatial estate of Kenwood is full of mixed blessings. While her uncle and aunt (Emily Watson, Breaking the Waves) treat her as if she were their own—they raise her alongside their other niece, Elizabeth Murray (Sarah Gadon, A Dangerous Method)—social conventions of eighteenth century society are immovable; no matter how much they love her, Dido feels the sting of being forced to eat with the servants, when company comes calling.

The greatness of the film comes in its intricate plotting, and in the parallels drawn between gender and race. Author Jane Austen dealt with the position of women in English society through the use of dry humor—though the rage at a young woman being forced into marriage in order to secure a safe future was always very much present. In Belle however, there is no satire to soften the blow. As Elizabeth comes out, venturing to London in search of a husband, she points out to Belle the inherent unfairness of a system that allows women to be treated as male property. Dido doesn't necessarily have the problem of a search for a husband, as the inheritance of her father's fortune ensures that she is financially secure; but for a radiant young woman in the prime of her life, her uncle's insistence on keeping her out of sight understandably rankles her.

Matters are complicated by the arrival of John Davinier (Sam Reid), the son of a local clergyman. Ambitious and wide-eyed, John wants to try to rise in station, training with Lord Mansfied to become a lawyer. His outspoken, radically abolitionist views on a notorious legal case Lord Mansfield is trying annoy the Lord considerably; but he rouses all the passionate feeling in Dido that she has been forced for so long to suppress.

As Lord Mansfield, Wilkinson (Batman Begins, Michael Clayton) plays the exasperated father figure with the correct touches of humor and warmth. As a judge, he projects the inner conflicts of a man with the weight of the entire economic system on his shoulders; you can see him try to deflect from the strong-arming of local politicians, who want to ensure that the presence of the "mulatto" in his house will not affect his ruling on the case. As Elizabeth, Gadon takes what could have been a very stereotypical role of the flighty, romantic English girl, and brings a deep sense of hurt to it. Having been left with her uncle after her new stepmother successfully wrote her out of her father's will, Elizabeth's cheery exterior hides an emotionally hurt young girl.

And finally, there is Mbatha-Raw. As Dido, the engine that drives the film, you may deeply feel her two-fold frustration as a woman, and as a person of color. You will be carried away by her passion—her belief that things should not remain the same. On a more general level, the camera absolutely adores her. She moves and projects with a vitality and ease that forces one to stop at several points. Her characterization and her performance are so accomplished, that her independent-minded heroine could stand toe-to-toe with the multiple incarnations of Jane Austen's Elizabeth Bennett. If Belle is any indication, and if there is any fairness in this world, there should be more great things to come from her.

-Nick Kostopoulos - See more at: http://www.mediumraretv.org


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