I originally picked up our Blu-Ray copy of Belle because it featured not just the aristocratic families and grand houses that one often expects to find in a period film, it promised to be unlike any other I had seen.
Belle tells the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsay, a young aristocratic woman who was rescued from slavery and raised among the wealthy upper classes in 18th century England. Born to Maria Belle, an enslaved African woman living in the West Indies, and Sir John Lindsay, a British naval officer, Dido was saved by her father at a young age, and brought to England to be raised at Kenwood House under the guardianship of her great uncle, William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, and his wife. The couple, having previously taken in their niece, Elizabeth Murray, raised Dido as one of their own.
Starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Beyond the Lights) and Sam Reid (Anonymous), the film captures the young adulthood of Dido and her cousin, Elizabeth. As Dido comes of age, she struggles with her own identity as a multiracial woman amongst a homogeneous and classist society. After meeting a young lawyer, played by Reid, she gains further knowledge of issues surrounding the slavery she was born into, and makes her own attempts to change the course of history.
Mbatha-Raw's portrayal of Dido is absolutely outstanding. She exudes intelligence and strength throughout the film, and as a viewer, I could not wait to see how she would conquer the 18th century injustices set upon her. I hope that the real Dido was as confident, and as brave as her character and that this beautifully written film might bring her story the attention it truly deserves.