Belle: The Story of Slavery’s End in Britain
Inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, is a movie about an illegitimate mixed race woman raised by her aristocratic great uncle, Lord Mansfield, in Britain during the 18th century.
Daughter of an enslaved African and a British admiral, Belle was raised alongside her cousin Elizabeth as a sister but perceived to others as Elizabeth’s play mate. Afforded certain privileges, as living under a royal roof, Belle’s race still prevented her from certain traditions of noble social standing like eating dinner with her family during dinner parties. Belle tries to understand how she is “too high in rank to eat with the servants and too low to eat with the family.”
Raised in a society that views her as inferior Belle’s journey to find love and understanding allows her to change some of the views of those that judged her and Britain’s history.
For the actress Phylicia Rashad, who attended a screening this month, “Belle” is a revelation both in the historical broad strokes and the human fine grain. “You know that England abolished slavery before the United States, but you never knew how it came about,” she said. “For those of us who think we know history, we don’t” (New York Times).
Yet to discuss the film in terms of abolition is to narrow its scope, Ms. Rashad said. “It’s also about a father’s love for a daughter, about a young girl struggling to define who she is and about a woman who changes those around her,” she added (New York Times).
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