Politically incorrect film reviews – Belle

Cast

Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Dido Elizabeth Belle

Tom Wilkinson as William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield

Miranda Richardson as Lady Ashford

Penelope Wilton as Lady Mary Murray

Sam Reid as John Davinier

Matthew Goode as Captain Sir John Lindsay

Emily Watson as Lady Mansfield

Sarah Gadon as Lady Elizabeth Murray

Tom Felton as James Ashford

Alex Jennings as Lord Ashford

James Norton as Oliver Ashford

James Northcote as Mr Vaughan

Bethan Mary-Jeames as Mabel

Director Amma AsanteThis is a straightforward propaganda film in the politically correct interest, the particular interest  being that of racial prejudice and slavery.  It is the latest in a slew of such films over the past few years, most notably Django Unchained, Lincoln and  12 Years a slave. More generally, it is an example of the well-practiced  trick of taking of a black person  from history and elevating them way  beyond their importance simply because they are black –  the attempt to place Mary Seacole on a par with Florence Nightingale comes to mind.

Belle is set in the  middle of the eighteenth century and is based  extremely  loosely  on a true story, the looseness being  aided by the fact that information about  Dido is very scanty, resting almost entirely on entries in the accounts  of the house in which she is raised  (Kenwood House  in Hampstead) and diary entries made by the one-time Governor of Massachusetts Thomas Hutchinson who was a guest in 1789.

The story told in the film is this, around   1764 the Lord Chief Justice of England,  the Earl of Mansfield , takes into his household  a very young mixed race girl Dido Belle. She is  the bastard child of a slave Mary Belle  and Mansfield’s  nephew Sir John Lindsay (Matthew Goode).  The girl is legally a slave by birth, but is treated as a freewoman once she is in England.  Rather oddly Lindsay  is portrayed as absolutely doting on the child then vanishes entirely  from the film despite the fact that he lived for another quarter century.

The Mansfields  have no children of   their  own.  When  Dido arrives, they have already  taken in her  cousin,  Elizabeth Murray, great niece to Lord Mansfield.  Elizabeth and Dido grow up together, in the film, supposedly as  playmates and equals. This idea is largely derived from  a portrait painted of the two girls in their middle teens  by an artist originally thought to be Zoffany,  but now relegated to by anonymous.   The composition of the painting suggests that equality was not quite the relationship.  The picture  does have  Elizabeth resting a hand on Dido, but  shows Elizabeth ahead of the girl. In addition, Dido is carrying a basket with fruit and is dressed as the type of exotic ethnic human curiosity much favoured in paintings  in the 18th century, the exoticism being signalled not only by her race but the fact that she is sporting a  turban.  Such touches suggest subordination.   The Kenwood accounts book support this by showing Elizabeth receiving an allowance of £100 a year and Dido only £30. Her position was indeterminate, above a servant but below a unashamed relative.

The film ignores such details. Dido is  presented not merely as the natural  equal of her  cousin Elizabeth Murray, but judged on her merits and circumstances, as more desirable.  Her social status is elevated . She is described as an heiress with a fortune of £2,000 (worth £300,000 at 2014 prices)  left her by her father.  This is simply untrue. Dido  inherited  a half share of £1,000 from her father and was left £500 and an annuity of £100 pa in Mansfield’s will, but this was years after the events covered by the film – her father died in 1788 and Mansfield in 1793. In the film Dido as a girl of twenty or so  is represented as being a   prize in the marriage stakes because of the fictitious fortune, while Elizabeth Murray is portrayed  as the young woman in danger of being left on the shelf because, the film tells us, she has no fortune.  In fact, Elizabeth was an heiress  with the added lure of being the daughter of an earl.

To give substance to the idea that Dido is the better marriageable property,  the film has the son of a peer   Oliver Ashford ( James Norton) wooing and eventually proposing to  Dido.  His brother  James  (Tom Felton)  objects on the grounds of her race and (mildly) physically assaults Dido. Several other members of the Ashford family also take exception to the match. There is absolutely no evidence  for such a  romance and it is most improbable that someone of Ashford’s social standing would have thought of such a match,  let alone carried it through to the point of a proposal.

To this improbable confection is added the portrayal of the person who marries her. The name of the person John Davinier is true to life, but that is as far as reality extends. In the film Davinier is depicted as English, the son of a vicar and a budding lawyer who initially is taken under Mansfield’s patronage. In real life Davinier was French,  the son of a servant,  who worked as a steward  or possibly even as  a valet. That he was thought a suitable match for Dido points firmly to her social inferiority.

The  second half of the  film is largely devoted to Dido working  to influence Lord Mansfield over a suit relating to slaves.   In 1783 Mansfield  has to give a judgement in a case involving the slaveship  Zong and her insurers.  The insurance claim is made after the cargo of slaves are thrown overboard with the ship owners claiming necessity on the grounds that the ship was running dangerously short of water and could not make landfall to take on water before the entire ship ‘s company was put in  danger.   Davinier in the film is depicted as fervent anti-slaver who  persuades Belle to get hold of some papers from Mansfield  which proves that the Zong owner’s story is false. There is no evidence for Dido’s  involvement in the matter and as Davinier is a fictitious character as far as the film is concerned,  his involvement is a nonsense.

Next there is the dramatic  treatment of Mansfield’s denial of the Zong insurance claim as a triumph for the anti-slavers. In fact Mansfield’s judgement was a very narrow and legalistic one. He did not proceed on the grounds that a slave could not be treated as property to be disposed of at the slave-owners will. All he did was rule that the insurance claim was invalid because the ship’s captain did not have the reason of necessity for his decision to throw the slaves overboard.  The film does  include this judgment but overlaid it with anti-slavery rhetoric by having Mansfield quote in the  Zong action  his earlier judgement in a slave case – that of the slave Somerset t in 1772. There  Mansfield ruled that slavery in England could not exist because  “The state of slavery . . . is so odious that  nothing can be suffered to support it, but positive law” and freed Somersett, the positive law not existing.   The Somersett case is actually a better platform on which to  put the antislavery case,  but was  foregone because Belle would have been at most ten when the case came to court and could not have been portrayed as taking a role in influencing the judgement other than by her mere existence.

There is also an  attempt to paint Britain as being greatly dependent economically on the slave trade and the use of slaves in  some of the colonies.  On a number of occasions it is stated that Britain would be ruined if  slavery was undermined. This was indeed a claim made by those benefitting  from slavery but it was not the general opinion of the country, nor does it meet the facts. Hugh Thomas in his The Slave Trade estimates that by the second half of the 18th century the returns on slaving were no better than that of many other cargoes.

Simply judged as an theatrical experience the film fails. Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Dido presents  two problems. The first is  her acting which is horribly flat. Theatrically speaking,  she was no more than a blank sheet to be passively written upon, a politically correct banner to be waved at the audience. The second difficulty concerns her looks and demeanour. Frankly, to this reviewers eyes at least , she  is not  the irresistible  beauty  the film suggests and in this role lacks  feminine charm.  Ironically, her portrayal  may well be true to life, for Thomas Hutchinson describes her as  “neither handsome nor genteel – pert enough”.

To that difficulty  can be added the fact that so much has been made of the painting of Dido and Elizabeth  the filmgoer goes to the cinema with a firm idea of what Dido looked like. The painting shows her to have Caucasian features, which bear a strong resemblance to those her father  if his portrait is anything to go by.  Mbatha-Raw looks  so utterly different from the  portrait of Dido that her appearance becomes disconcerting.

There is a further point related to her looks. The painting of Dido and Elizabeth Murray shows Dido  to have been  distinctly Caucasian in her facial features  with a light brown colouring. Mbath-Raw, who has a white mother and black father, has little hint of Caucasian features and is rather darker in complexion.  Interestingly, in Twelve Years a Slave the same difficulty arises, with  the central character Solomon Northup in a contemporary depiction also  possessing strongly Caucasian features,  while the actor playing him had no such facial characteristics.   This is not a trivial flaw  because it is probable that the more like the dominant racial type in a society , the readier the acceptance  of the person by white society, even in such a status conscious time as the 18th century.   Could it be that the casting directors in films such as Belle and Twelve Years a Slave are consciously or unconsciously influenced by the idea that black actors and actresses should not look too  white?

An impressive cast of established English character actors surround Mbatha-Raw  and the film  looks  very pretty,  but it is dull, very very dull.   This is for the same reason that 12 Years a Slave is s dull.  it presents only one side of a story in  a very preachy manner. There is scarcely a moment when the viewer  does not feel they are being told what to think. The  slew of first rate English character actors do their best with the meagre fare they have been given,  but even the best of actors cannot make a dull script excite.

It is unreasonable to expect an historical film to religiously abide by the details  of a complicated story because  of the pressure of time and the need for dramatic impact. What is unforgiveable is the wilful misrepresentation of a person or event to satisfy an ideological bent.   Belle does this in the most  blatant fashion. Because racial prejudice has been elevated to the great blasphemy of our times, the film is not merely wrong but dangerous in its one-eyed nature and misrepresentations.

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Comments

  • takizakura123  On August 9, 2014 at 9:36 am

    Good review.

    • alicia sedgeworth  On April 11, 2016 at 7:10 pm

      ?!? It’s a horrible review — almost nefariously designed to keep people from seeing this great work. I am a voracious viewer of films (and an avid student of history) and BELLE may be the best I’ve ever seen. The writing is refreshingly intelligent and realistic; the acting is Superb (with a capital “S”); the cinematography is lush and beautiful — and so is the score. It does a disservice to humanity to try to keep people from seeing BELLE — a magnificent film on every level.

    • alicia sedgeworth  On April 11, 2016 at 7:23 pm

      Where are my posts? Henderson’s is NOT a “good review” at all. BELLE is a wonderful film on every level. I am a voracious viewer of films and BELLE may be the best I’ve ever seen. The writing is intelligent and interesting ( as one would expect in the household of the Chief Supreme Court Justice in all of England); ALL of the acting is Superb (with a capital “S”); the cinematography and score are lush, beautiful, and wonderfully memorable. The reviewer does a disservice to humanity in Trying to keep people from viewing this GREAT film!

  • davis  On August 16, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    I normally never comment on any website, but after reading this scathing review of the movie Belle–I had to leave a comment. I also have been researching the history of the movie Belle. I have read many different opinions about the history of Dido and John. I have read that one of the members of the Murray family stated that John was a minister’s son and he and Dido had met more than once. I also read that John could have been a legal assistant of Dido’s father .I also read that Dido was born either in 1761 or 1763. In some accounts, John was called a Steward. In the movie, it is known that he was not a wealthy man and who knows if he was or was not an abolitionist , or a student of law. He was a forward thinking man, because he did not care about race when he married Dido.

    So the writer’s of this film had to assume many things based on the history that they had. The gentleman who stated that Dido was neither pretty or ugly, but pert was a liar. I looked at the picture and found her very pretty. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so his opinion was not correct to me. I also read in some accounts that Dido acted as Lord Mansfield’s secretary. So that means she was educated and was smart.) The gentleman from America also stated that Lord Mansfield was reproved for showing Dido too much affection. I remind people that she was his niece. I am ashamed to learn that people would tell someone that they are not to have, or show affection for their relatives. That gentleman was a racist and bigoted person

    I have watched many films based on the history of famous people in America and other countries. I learned that many of the things presented in the films were not correct, but they were presented as fact. Look up the life of Thomas Jefferson (who had children by his wife’s mixed-raced sister; and he never set her free). Paul Revere did not finish the ride. In the movie, “The President’s Lady” we were told many untruth’s in this movie. I could go on, and on. Also, in England many famous people’s lives have been inaccurate in film and on TV.

    To compare the features of the actor’s who are trying to tell a story–to be to black or white is downright racist, by the reviewer. I have found that many actresses who have played Elizabeth the First, to be too pretty. Elizabeth was not a pretty woman. (So to even go there is disgusting for a reviewer). I found the actresses who played Belle and Beth to be very pretty. In real life, Elizabeth Murray was attractive but Dido was pretty. In the movie they had to make the movie interesting and to put in a plot. Many white men have given up their lives for women of other races.

    I wonder why these nasty things have been written concerning this movie. I believe the reviewer is a closet racist and did not like the truth that a white man loved and married Dido. In America, there were many cases where a White man gave up his family for a Black or Mixed-Race, and Native American women. (Why would Dido have to be a great Beauty?) According to some accounts that I read, England’s Queen Charlotte was of mixed-race blood–a Moor, if it is correct) and to me, she wasn’t pretty but attractive.

    Who knows if Belle wasn’t treated as a complete equal? According to the man from America, Lord Mansfield was warned not to show her affection, so maybe the family put on a show to pretend that she was not treated equally–when company came. However, I read in that she was given expensive furniture, and though she had duties–she was paid 30 pds and was the Supervisor and not an actual worker. (Who knows if she was given more? Maybe they gave it to her in secret, since people at that time did not like it that they showed affection for her–think about it) Also, Lord Mansfield, Lady Mary and her father left Dido enough money to be very well off (that tells me that they loved her).

    And Dido loved them because she did not leave Lord Mansfield’s home until after he died. She must have postponed marrying John until after he died. She stayed with him and took care of him in his old age. It is important to note that she married John 5 months after he died, so that tells me he had already proposed and she had to wait to marry him. John must have loved her, because he was a white man and could have married anyone he wanted. Dido on the other hand had limited options (she being mixed-raced and there were probably no other Black men in her area).

    So please when you review a film about history please remember that no one knows it all. When Elizabeth the First was proclaimed as a Virgin Queen, was she? Did Henry the 8th have redeeming qualities, or did he kill his wives so he could keep marrying whomever he wanted?. (Oh by the way, he was not a handsome man, so when an actor is going to portray him on film, they better get someone who is not good looking.)

    Whoever reviewed this movie shows bias- and is a racist.

    • davis  On August 16, 2014 at 11:20 pm

      I am sorry to leave such a long reply, but it is necessary to answer such a racist review of this movie.

      • Krod  On January 27, 2016 at 4:27 pm

        Good review.. I saw the movie Belle and it was a beautiful movie. Of course there were parts that were not true (drama license). But isn’t that the case in most movies? I agree that the individual’s review was not fair at all and even if Dido’s husband was a “valet”, he was a white male, who as you say, had more options than Dido. He could have married white even if not high society. I think it was a beautiful movie where it showed that Love and humility lift people up and Hate and Pride, bring people down!

      • alicia sedgeworth  On April 11, 2016 at 7:05 pm

        Thank you for injecting sanity here, davis. Indeed, BELLE is a revelation — a great film on every level. I voraciously view films — and BELLE may be the best I’ve ever seen.

      • alicia sedgeworth  On April 11, 2016 at 7:29 pm

        davis, thank you for injecting sanity here. Indeed, BELLE is a magnificent film on every level. I am a voracious viewer of film and this is the best I’ve ever seen. The writing, acting, cinematography, and score are wonderful.

    • Robert Henderson  On August 17, 2014 at 6:34 am

      You are unwittingly supporting my review by your unblinking political correctness. The whole point of my review is to show that in the absence of solid facts the film has been used as a propaganda vehicle. But even where the facts are there, the film ignores them, for example, the false claim that Dido was an heiress and Elizabeth Murray not an heiress. The film was indeed racist in its depiction of white society at the time.

      • alicia sedgeworth  On April 11, 2016 at 7:27 pm

        Your review is ridiculous and terrible. BELLE is a wonderful film on every level. The dialogue is intelligent and interesting. The acting is Superb (with a capital “S”). The cinematography and score are lush and beautiful. You do a disservice to your readers in TRYING to keep them from seeing this magnificent film.

      • Robert Henderson  On April 11, 2016 at 7:36 pm

        Assertion does not equal fact. You need to learn that.

    • ruthirene3  On October 14, 2015 at 3:25 pm

      The problem I have as a black woman with this movie was that the film went out of their way to fictionalize a real person, simply to satisfy a particular ideology, as accurately stated by the reviewer. To make it appear that Dido had an inheritance above Elizabeth’s and was willing to give up part of her own wealth to elevate Elizabeth’s status, was both ridiculous and manipulative. It was absolutely untrue, since Elizabeth was the one with the greater inherirance, and it was Dido who was of a lesser status. The film purposefully portrayed Elizabeth as a disadvantaged person to victimize her role, simply so they could make Dido the heroine of the film. In reality their really appeared to be no heros in Dido’s life. Even the film causually suggested that Dido was not always permitted to dine with her family when guests visited, this was brushed over quickly in te film but was probably the most truthful point it made during its 100 minute runtime. Davinier, we know very little about, however his social status could have been all the reason for his interest in Dido, who did receive an inheritance after her uncle’s death. This distortion of historical accounts suggests the films intent was simply one of propaganda and not to be relied on for historical accuracy. It would have been greater to tell the story of the psychological depravity behind how Caucasians struggle to view others as equals, even when one has the same blood running through their veins. You make claims without citing any references, the reviewer at least takes care to do so. It was a story of , ” wouldn’t it had been lovely if…” And yes, it would have been lovely if the story portrayed real life events, which makes it more an atrocity and tragedy that it did not. However, two the reviewer I do have two areas of disapproval, the first, which you already addressed to the physical beauty of the real life Dido and the actress who played her. To address matters of attractiveness is strictly subjective and your opinion on the subject’s beauty a well as the actress who portrayed her (who I find to be beautiful),colors your remark as a bit vindictive towards blacks in nature. Which quite frankly does cause me to consider that the remark by Thomas Hutchinson as possibly being vindictive in nature. Most of your information was more journalistic in nature and a fitting critique of the film’s almost complete lack of accuracy. Secondly, in comparing this inaccuracy to other black films: you mentioned Django Unchained. On the surface, if reviewing both films for their historical data you will find very little fact. Both Belle and Django are propaganda, both provide a satisfactory feeling to resolving the heinous acts of slavery by trying to address the burdens it caused and then presenting either a lovely or an entertaining idea to remedy the social disrepair, respectively. However, you can not rightfully compare these movies under the same light of fictitious nonsense to create a platform for a ridiculous ideology. The reason being, Django Unchained is a political satire, who’s intent was to capsule 400 years of knowledge on the horrors of slavery, the bloodiness, savagery, and hopelessness suffered by the African slaves in contrast to the ridiculous ideas of an civilized southern southern society which happily inflicted such horrors upon humans simply for economic gain. The film exaggerates an idea of vindication merely to create a balance to the imbalance which has been depicted fir decades in historical accounts which diminish the numbers of fatalities, as well as works of fiction, which cleverly portray white sentiment during a 400 year holocaust…shockingly leaving white and black viewer’s in love with some aspects of “the antebellum period”. Django Unchained intent was to dramatically destroy any such sentiment, while creating a new one…instead of romanticizing southern lifestyle around slavery, the film portrayed the survivors of slavery the black male and female, as heros and elevated them by showing an ability to endure and overcome insurmountable odds, which is evident in our history by virtue of our accomplishments despite our violent oppositions.

      • alicia sedgeworth  On April 11, 2016 at 7:53 pm

        ?! Dido would be the main protagonist of the film even if she had not received a penny. The man who married her, married her because he loved her. Thomas Jefferson, a widower, began to have a decades-long romantic relationship with an enslaved teenager, Sally Hemings, who had considerably less (monetarily) than Dido, who DID receive an inheritance from both her father and her famous uncle, The Chief Supreme Court Justice over all of England. Jefferson, whose first wife was independently wealthy, could have married another wealthy white woman. He chose instead to live out his many days with a lovely, humorous, talented enslaved lady. Davinier was described as the son of clergy by a member of Mansfield’s own family. Davinier loved Dido and he married Dido. Period.

        BELLE is a wonderful film on several levels. The writing/dialogue is intelligent and interesting ( as would be expected in the household of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court over all of England). The acting is Superb with a capital “S”. The cinematography and score are lush, beautiful, and memorable. Everyone should see BELLE. I am a voracious viewer of films and BELLE is the best I’ve ever seen. And yes, I saw DJANGO, a good, though different kind of film in its own right.

    • Ruth Crocker  On October 14, 2015 at 5:32 pm

      The problem I had with this movie, as a black woman, was that the film went out of their way to fictionalize and romanticize a real person, simply to satisfy a popular ideology, as I feel was accurately stated by the reviewer. To make it appear that Dido had an inheritance above Elizabeth’s and was even willing to give up part of her own wealth in order to elevate Elizabeth’s more humble status, was completely fictitious, as well as ridiculous and manipulative. This blatant untruth was undoubtedly inserted to manipulate history, for the despicable purposes of re-writing it to make the something about white culture and their treatment of blacks redeemable. Since, in truth, Elizabeth was the one with the greater inheritance, and it was Dido who was of a lesser status, this would have destroyed the film’s claims that Dido was treated as an equal in her home, and that the fight she faced for equality was not a domestic one, simply a social one. Hence the emphasis on the painting, and the film’s foolish attempt to assume an entire life’s experience behind it. Clearly, we can see that their take on the old adage ” a picture is worth a thousand words”, has given reckless abandon to the historical accounts that could have been used to actually tell this story, because quite frankly if they had done so, the movie would have been very uninspiring. As I stated, the film purposely and untruthfully portrayed Elizabeth as a disadvantaged person to victimize her role, for the sole purposes of making Dido a heroine, which in my honest opinion, does a great disservice to the actual life of the real Dido. To fantasize that she had it far better than what her true circumstances suggest, diminish any real struggle or experience owned by her true life story, which probably has so little historical account, because it was one of statistic, no different from so many people of color, regardless of who her white relatives were. In reality their really appeared to be no true heroes in Dido’s life. Even the film suggested that Dido was not always permitted to dine with her family when guests visited the home, this was brushed over in the film but was probably the most truthful point it made during its 100 minute run-time.Davinier, we know very little about, however, his social status might have been reason enough for his interest in Dido, who did at least receive an inheritance at the time of her uncle’s death. It may not have been an issue of him waiting for her, as much as it could have been him waiting for her uncle to die. As the film proves, the speculations are endless. Speculation is speculation, nonetheless,it should never be presented as fact. In my opinion, the film’s delivery as disgusting and disrespectful. This distortion of historical accounts suggests the film’s intent was simply one of propaganda and not to be relied upon for historical accuracy. It would have been greater to tell the story of the psychological depravity constantly revealed through European story telling in how they white wash their inhumane acts and theoretically equalize everyone they victimize by their self proclaimed acceptance of a few alleged tokens. The idea that makes them noble and trustworthy as historians is further evidence of a deep moral decay. Furthermore, the film could have truthfully portrayed the point of struggle Caucasians have to view others as equals to themselves, even when others partly share the same bloodline. You state all of your sentiments of what the true character “could have, might have” been, yet cite no references for your beliefs. I have a huge problem with that because it suggests the film won you over through sentiment and now you’re willing to imagine it all to be true. The reviewer, regardless of how narrow some of his remarks were, at least cited references for his critique. The film was merely a story of “Wouldn’t it have been lovely if this were true….”…And yes, it would have been lovely I suppose, if the film portrayed true live events, which only makes it more of a tragedy and an atrocity that it did not actually do so, but stated that it did. That said, to the reviewer I do have two areas of disapproval, the first, which you also addressed disapproval for, to the matter of the physical beauty of the real Dido, as well as the attractiveness of actress who portrayed her (who I personally thought was beautiful). Suggesting she wasn’t attractive enough, implied she would have needed to be incredibly seductive in order to persuade any attention from a white suitor. To address matters of attractiveness is generally understood to be one of a subjective and personal nature, when broad statements are made about attractiveness, as if it a universal truth, it suggests a vindictiveness and slight towards the subject under inspection. For that reason, I feel your comments in this regard color your remarks hatefully, and vindictively towards blacks in nature. Which quite frankly, also causes me to reconsider the accuracy of the artist who depicted the girls, as well as the remarks of Hutchinson as possibly being vindictive in nature, seeing that beauty is such a subjective topic and so closely influenced by our social opinions and passions. Most of your information however, was more journalistic in nature and a fitting critique to this film’s almost complete lack of accuracy. Secondly, in comparing the inaccuracy in this film to other black film’s: you mentioned “Django Unchained.” On the surface, if reviewing both films for their historical data you will find very little historical content in the characters. Unlike Belle, however, there is an accuracy in the historical accounts of the horrific nature of slavery truthfully addressed in the film Django. Both Belle and Django are propaganda, but one to propagate a myth and the other to obliterate a myth, respectively. Therefore, you cannot reasonably compare the two under the same light of fictitious nonsense and historical defamation to create a platform for a ridiculous ideology. The reason being, Django Unchained was presented as a political satire. It highlighted historical truths, and provided a repsonse to them, while also playing out a victim’s tale with a redemptive conclusion. “Django Unchained”, capsules 400 years of history and knowledge on slavery, and then makes deliberate emphasis on it’s horrors, bloodiness, and savagery as well as the hopelessness suffered by the African Slaves whose lives and families were rendered powerless to it’s merciless destruction. In contrast, the film destroys the ridiculous ideas of a civilized southern society founded on such injustices and the “so called superior” Aryan Race who benefited from said culture while carrying out such evil, premeditated acts, inflicting unthinkable horrors upon humans simply for economic gain. Where the film as criticized for it’s bloodiness and exaggerations, the film’s approach should have been obvious for purposes of driving home a point through dramatic emphasis. How else would a satire successfully correct the imbalance in beliefs of an endearing antebellum south full of southern gentlemen and belle’s that have been depicted for decades through literature, film, and even historical accounts, which diminish the fatalities and horrific truth of the terrorist acts inflicted upon Africans due to the political acceptance of slavery. The film purposefully destroys white sentiment depicted in film and literature which shockingly and cleverly leaves white and black audiences in love with some aspects of ” the antebellum period”, during what was nothing less than a 400 year holocaust of African American people. “Django Unchained’s” intent was to dramatically attack and destroy such wicked sentiments, while creating a new one….instead of romanticizing southern lifestyle around slavery, “Django Unchained” attempted to gave back what the lies about slavery took away from the African American plight and story, worth to the black male and female, credit and acknowledgment for the endurance against such opposition, validation to the systemic impact it has had on us physically, psychologically, emotionally, socially, and hope for restoration of the black family, as the black male in this movie remained distracted by all the allures and seductions of freedom, and was focused on delivering his mate, the black woman. It added heroism to our story, so much to the fact that it shames historical accounts of what we endured, as well as even certain African Diaspora studies I’ve observed recount our experiences as strictly journalistic and not with any true acknowledgment of struggle and triumph or without the necessary conclusion to the weight of our accomplishments and existence, which the movie “Django Unchained,” simply supports is proven by virtue of our having survived such violent and evil opposition.

      • alicia sedgeworth  On April 11, 2016 at 9:01 pm

        See my reply to your original (same) post above. Dido would have been the main protagonist of this great film, BELLE, even if she had not inherited so much. BELLE is a truly Great film on every level. DJANGO’s good too, in its own way. Though both films show the power of love to knock down strongholds of evil prejudice.

  • davis  On August 27, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    No, you are showing your bigotry and your political incorrectness by not stating correct facts. I have been researching the known facts about the life of Belle to learn truth about this time in England. According to things that I read about the life of this woman, I ask you to consider these facts: Hutchinson’s remarks and opinions were “racist”; He stated that Mansfield had been told that he showed too much favor to Belle. I believe this may be the reason she received less money than her cousins from her family members because they were trying to prove that they were not showing her favor. (Who knows what they gave her in private. Maybe they gave her more, but did not let it be known to avoid criticism from their peers–we weren’t there). I find it sad to think that they were reproved by people, because they loved her and showed it. She was family–after all. It is sad to think that only in private she was shown love and provided for (as the wills show she was) by her father, uncle and aunt (but who knows how much she really received.) I believe they gave her more, but could not do it publicly, because of the times. Hutchinson made it clear that people had reproved Mansfield for showing his love for her. (How sad that they could not show love for this relative to the public because of racist people like Hutchinson) I read that she had expensive furniture, was given good medical care, had expensive clothing, and duties were probably given to her to prove that “she wasn’t being shown any favor”: her duties were very light according to what I learned. She was the Supervisor over the dairy and poultry yard (again–according to Hutchinson ) Also, Belle handled all of his correspondence from what I learned. This proves she was educated and she took care of him in his old age. She did not marry John until after her uncle died. The movie never implied that John told Belle to take Mansfield’s papers. In fact from some accounts, Davinier was said to be a legal assistant to Belle’s father. The makers’ of this film read and learned what I learned and did the best that they could with the facts they had–to make this movie. As to whether or not there could have been a proposal from the son of a peer to Belle (who knows, were you there?) Remember the case of Mrs. Simpson. A King gave up his throne for the woman he loved–and to my eyes “she was no BEAUTY” but to him, she was. So to imply that actors,are not good-looking enough to play a historical person who would risk all for them because of love, is to stupid to have been stated. (Jane Seymour played Mrs. Simpson and she was better looking than the real Mrs. Simpson). History tells us again and again, that love is stronger than the grave. People love who they love. I found the actors who played in this film to be very attractive people. As for another fact about the status of these girls, from the things I learned–they were friends. Even Hutchinson commented that the “black woman was arm-in-arm with one of the ladies.” I believe he meant with Elizabeth. Also, the film never implied that Elizabeth would not be considered a good match for a gentleman. The film was simply showing how money or a lack of a dowry was one of the reasons for marriage. Mansfield gave Elizabeth a large dowry in his will and left Belle money also. (Again, who knows how much Belle really received if he gave it to her in private) He knew how his peers felt about him showing her favor. From what I learned, they loved her and her duties were very light and he considered her to be very intelligent. One more thing, the turban. I saw a movie about this time, and some white women also wore them.

    From the few facts I learned about Davinier, who knows how he came to be in England. I did learn that he and Belle married in a church and Christened each of their 3 sons in the same church they married in. He was considered a Steward, so I looked it up. It means he was the most senior of servants. Who knows if he was a minister’s son or not? I did read in one account that a member of the Murray family implied that he was, and that he and Belle had met from-time in Hampstead. I do believe he was an Abolitionist. During that time, he would have had to have these views, in order to be brave to “marry” out of his race–remember that Hutchinson was “around.” I saw no intent by the film makers to imply any racist comments, they were simply showing that Belle being in that family did in some way influence her uncle’s opinions towards his Rulings on race at that time. In one of the interviews with a member of the current Murray family, it was his opinion that Dido being in Mansfield house, did affect his decisions on his rulings. This movie was simply made to educated, inform and entertain people. I enjoyed it and hope others will to.

    • alicia sedgeworth  On April 11, 2016 at 9:52 pm

      davis, once again I thank you. The TRUTH itself owes you a debt of gratitude. BELLE is a truly marvelous film in every way. Henderson appears to be the kind of person who wants to try to relegate black people’s influence to the back burner even when it is front and center. S/He’d probably have a conniption fit over the black Union spies, soldiers, and sailors instrumental in the North’s winning the Civil War over the South in the U.S.A.

  • Verdi  On September 6, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Thank yo Mr.F…Another Great critique, sadly I think this Davis critic is a Rusbudgie Guardianista…
    …another blinkered loony lefty liberal…
    ie. the very same fuckwits who have swamped my country with murdering conniving beheading Muslim terroristic foreigners, & Albanian traffickers & Grooming Pedophile gangs.. 1400 girls terrorised in one town…
    & pedant Davis rambles on about La Belle.
    Dullard!
    When did we get to vote for this Evil Mass Invasion Davis?
    Please read The 1923 School of Frankfurt & the Fabians, on the equally interesting Churchmouse Campanologist website…
    Thanks again.

    • alicia sedgeworth  On April 11, 2016 at 9:11 pm

      ?!? davis is clearly the Sane one here. Dido DID exist. Dido DID grow up in the household of her wealthy, highly accomplished, famous Uncle Mansfield, the Chief Supreme Court Justice over All of England. Dido DID grow up as the close playmate and confidante of her cousin, Elizabeth. Dido DID receive a sizeable inheritance (for the day) from both her uncle and her father. Dido DID marry a white man who members of her own household described as the son of a clergyman. Dido and her husband had at least THREE children, though — not just two as the credits after the film ends suggest. And the brilliant actress, Ms. Raw, is LIGHTER than the portrait of the REAL Dido. It makes one wonder whether Henderson actually saw the film (and the REAL portrait) at all — as he claims. He would not be the first reviewer to deceive his readers that way. Anyone with sense who actually watched BELLE in its entirety would have to acknowledge it as a truly great film.

  • davis  On September 10, 2014 at 2:12 am

    I am not surprised that some people cannot handle “a different point of view” — regarding my opinions concerning certain points raised by the critic of this film. I simply did my own research on this subject “Belle the Movie” and stated facts that I found out. I have a right to my own opinions and I will state “AGAIN” I disagree with the review of the film.

    I will state again these facts, I never read any where that Elizabeth was an heiress. (She might have been, but according to what I learned, she was being raised by her uncle, because her mother died). I learned that Elizabeth did not marry until the age of 25 or 26, maybe she did not have a dowry. Lord Mansfield gave her 10 thousand pounds. He also gave money to Belle. I disagree with the opinion that Belle’s father did not dote on her. He loved his children, and left them money in his will. He doted on Belle by bringing his mixed-race child to his family, he wanted to make sure she would be safe and be raised by his family. This shows love. From what I learned, he did not have any legitimate children with his wife. He also took responsibility for fathering her. So he did dote on Belle. As for Davinier, being a Steward, I remember seeing Lord of the Rings (the 3rd movie) and the Steward was the man in charge of everything. So I don’t think Davinier was a Valet. This proves Davinier had a good position.

    He must have loved Belle to wait for her to marry him. Since Belle did not marry him until after her father, and uncle died–proves to me that they did not want her to marry him (maybe they thought he wasn’t high-born enough) . She married him 5 months after her uncle died. I read that they had a comfortable life (they had enough money to live well). There was another film about Belle before this current one, and Davinier was portrayed as a member of the Clergy. I state again, that I believe that they (the family might have given her more money in private and did not report it, because of the problems they experienced by showing her favor) showed their love for her and she loved them. She took care of her uncle until he died.

    Who knows, maybe Kenwood house did not keep certain facts, concerning certain details. By reading and hearing certain comments from the Murray family, they were of the opinion that Belle knew Davinier from the town/village. I believe that the makers’ of this movie did the best that they could by researching and putting the facts–in a reasoned way to make this movie. I state again that I believe that the man “Hutchinson” was a racist, and his words prove it. Many people have seen the “Portrait of the girls” and our opinion of these women are– that they are more than “PERT ENOUGH” (Good Looking to Pretty are the words I have read concerning them). Again, according to many people who studied the history and ways in the 18th Century — for a Black person to be painted as Belle was painted next to her cousin — was Ground Breaking. She was not shown as a servant. I will point out, again, that White women at that time wore Turbans. Look at the movie “Princess Caraboo.”

    I will not get into politics. I do not understand why this subject is even being talked about here by certain people who are leaving their comments against me for expressing my opinions. I thought we were simply commenting on a film about the life of real people. I hope the people who read these comments will be honest and realize that Belle’s position in that family did influence her uncle to understand that people-are-people and should be treated equally regardless of their color: according to a member of the Murray family–they do believe that Lord Mansfield’s rulings concerning matters on race, were influenced by his affections for his niece (Remember, Hutchinson stated it).

    As a Christian, I understand the times we are living in, and I have a right to express my opinions without being attacked by certain crazies who don’t agree with me; and I don’t have to be “vulgar” with people –when I express them.

    Good Day!

    • alicia sedgeworth  On April 11, 2016 at 9:12 pm

      davis, thank you again for your rational, accurate description and assessment. BELLE is a truly magnificent film.

  • Britt W  On October 30, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    I must say I myself enjoyed the film it was everything you would believe to have heard or seen in that time in that situation. I can not believe that even still everything about race must be negative why? Who do people really think they are I believe you both stated your views while different it’s something you both have a right to do, but to then have someone be vulgar and evil for nothing more then a difference in opinion in sad. Everyone is concerned with who loved who and how if a marriage in the 1700’s to someone outside of your race is not proof of love I do not know what is. Not to mention he loved her so it’s said before he knew of her money. Also, people have access to different things as far as whether or not Olive Ashford existed and loved or liked Belle who knows. It would make since as the 2nd son in that time that he needed a platform a women with wealth while he could look for others it would make since to think of Belle if she was an heiress to fortune.

    I believe that there are many stories not yet told and that you are not a racist to think different. To be racist is an action its something that must be done. So yes do as you please about your freedom of speech that is fine. But if you do not hold a door, do not say your welcome have a good day etc… if you take action to not help or hurt someone because of their race that is begin racist. I clicked on this posting because I thought it was actual historical information about the story of Belle. Not to mention Belle in the painting the actress and the actual Belle were both as Beautiful as could be. I do not care who you are or how you think no matter what GOD you believe in(if you do) we come from the same one. Have you ever heard of the story of Zipporah and Moses (From the bible like so many stories that are missed or where removed). If not look it up we are all the same here we love research! Any way my point as I am rushing through this is why be so evil so rude so disrespectful if you are spiritual or not someone else’s love has nothing to do with you. And the response to his review was not in any way to long it was beautifully written and a great response. Love is love we will all know the truth when we are laid to rest. Let’s just all pray then that our time here on earth was not spent in a pure evil state rude disrespectful and unnecessary.

    • Lynne Forbes  On February 3, 2015 at 12:13 am

      Apart from all the discussion pertaining to the historical facts, the dialogue in the film was banal & cringeworthy . I have to agree that it was extremely dull and couldn’t agree more about the flat performance of ‘Belle’ (even though the actress admittedly is extremely pretty) . The film never quite succeeds in fully engaging the viewer. Very disappointing.

      • alicia sedgeworth  On April 11, 2016 at 7:02 pm

        ?!? I am a voracious viewer of films and BELLE is one of the best I’ve ever seen. The writing (dialogue) is realistic, interesting, and even gently,suitably humorous (between John Davinier and Dido Lindsay) on their walks; the acting–by everyone– is magnificent; the score is lush and memorable, and the cinematography, breathtakingly beautiful. Ms. Raw is an absolute revelation (she was underused but still wonderfully effective in CONCUSSION with Will Smith). I hope many more people will do themselves a favor and see this great film.

      • alicia sedgeworth  On April 11, 2016 at 7:33 pm

        ?!? In what parallel universe?! BELLE is a Wonderful film on all levels in THIS one. The writing (dialogue) is intelligent and interesting ( as one would expect in the household of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of all of England). The acting is Superb — with a capital “S.” The cinematography and score are lush, beautiful, and highly memorable. I am a voracious viewer of films and BELLE is the best I’ve ever seen.

    • bellatalksliving  On May 17, 2015 at 7:23 am

      Racism isn’t anaction its a belief a mindset that a person is less then purely based off their race. Just becsuse someone doesn’t act on that belief doesn’t mean they’re not racist it means they’re smart. Another thing, vocalizing your racism is just as bad as actong on it. And I have to say that this guy has to be either A.) A closeted racist
      Or
      B.) Extremely ignorant and rude
      And people when using Freedom of Speech please remember even that has its restrictions so use your words wisely.

      • Robert Henderson  On May 17, 2015 at 7:27 am

        Freedom of speech is an absolute by definition: you either have it or, as you are proposing,a range of permitted opinion. You wish to censor.

    • alicia sedgeworth  On April 11, 2016 at 8:38 pm

      Good point about Moses and Zipporah in the Bible. The WHOLE of NUMBERS Chapter 11 in the Bible is about how Moses married an Ethiopian (African) woman and how God punished Moses’ brother and sister for saying something negative about him marrying her. His sister, Miriam, was even ironically struck with LEPROSY and turned white as snow — for several days– until God’s punishment was over!

  • Rachael  On February 14, 2015 at 6:25 am

    You sound bat shit crazy and a bit racist yourself. How can you say she’s not light enough she’s a light skinned black woman. Was she supposed to look like Mariah Carey? On the painting Dido is darker than GuGu. The only difference I see is the hair. In the painting her hair seemed straighter. They could have loosened up the actress curl pattern and that’s it. To dedicate an entire paragraph to how the actress isn’t pretty enough or light enough. Coming from a white man. Do you not see the irony? You’ve got to be kidding me. I’m black and I know a pretty white woman when I see one. I thought they down played how pretty the cousin was and that they should have got someone less attractive to play her. But to say that actress wasnt attractive you are an odd man. That’s like me saying scarlet johnsan isnt attractive she would look better if she tanned. That’s her color she’s white. Of course the movie isn’t politically correct. Its old as shit what do you expect? Even by your accounts its pretty darn close to me. People aren’t stupid just because something says based off a true story doesn’t mean there won’t be embellishments. Its the movies look up any true story movie and you will see embellishments. If your a woman I almost can say your going to like this movie a lot. Only thing it was missing was passionate love scenes and a little more romance. If your a man you might want to stick to transformers.

    • alicia sedgeworth  On April 11, 2016 at 8:40 pm

      Excellent assessment, Rachel. I’m a voracious viewer of films and BELLE is the best I’ve ever seen.

  • Caroleena of the Desert  On June 14, 2015 at 12:43 am

    Good golly and good dialogue. I enjoyed the film. It caused me to want to know more of the history of the entire family. I look forward to my research. Be kind to one another for kindness is the great equalizer….and we are all equal, or so of be heard.

    • Krod  On January 27, 2016 at 4:31 pm

      Yes. Listen it’s a movie. They changed the story line to make it more interesting. I enjoyed it.. Most movies use their drama license to twist things around.

      • alicia sedgeworth  On April 11, 2016 at 8:52 pm

        BELLE is an excellent example of the Historical Fiction genre. It is a magnificent film. I am a voracious viewer of films and BELLE is one of the best I’ve ever seen. Dido DID exist. Dido DID grow up in the household of her wealthy, famous, highly-accomplished uncle, the Chief Supreme Court Justice of all of England. Dido DID receive an inheritance from both her father and her uncle. Dido DID grow up as a playmate and close relative of her cousin Elizabeth. Dido DID marry a white man who members of her own household described as the son of a clergyman. Dido and John had at least THREE (3) children, though. After the film ends, they erroneously state that Dido and John had only two. BELLE has intelligent writing, Superb acting, beautiful cinematography and a lush, memorable score. It is a great film that should be seen by EVERYONE.

    • alicia sedgeworth  On April 11, 2016 at 8:54 pm

      You have good taste, Caroleena. BELLE is a truly wonderful film on every level! Have fun with your research.

  • Tmc  On February 27, 2016 at 12:00 am

    So what if this movie was propaganda? I’m no film critic but how can propagating messages about antislavery be bad?i’ve seen quite a few American ‘propoganda’ films and it was good to watch a British onefor a change

    • Robert Henderson  On February 27, 2016 at 7:49 am

      Propaganda is a lie.

      • alicia sedgeworth  On April 11, 2016 at 8:03 pm

        ?!? BELLE is historical fiction. And it is one of the best of the genre. Dido DID exist. Dido DID inherent money from both her father and her highly-accomplished, famous Uncle. Dido DID marry a white man who members of her own household described as the son of clergy. And Dido, as is obvious in her OWN portrait, was DARKER in complexion than the brilliant actress, Ms. Gugu Raw. It is YOU who have engaged in “propaganda” to Try to keep people from seeing this truly magnificent film. Why?

    • alicia sedgeworth  On April 11, 2016 at 8:31 pm

      Excellent point, Krod. Though the movie is NOT “propaganda.” Dido DID exist. Dido DID grow up in the household of her famous, highly accomplished Uncle, The Chief Supreme Court Justice of All of England. Dido DID receive an inheritance from both her father and her uncle. Dido and Elizabeth DID grow up together, were playmates, and were very close. Dido DID marry a white man who members of her own (the Mansfield) household described as the son of a clergyman. One of the main things that the film got wrong, though, is the number of children that Dido and John had together. They had at least THREE children.

    • alicia sedgeworth  On April 11, 2016 at 9:21 pm

      You make a valid point, tmc. But the film is not propaganda. Dido DID exist. Dido DID grow up in the household of her wealthy, famous, brilliant Uncle Mansfield. Dido did grow up as the close playmate and confidante of her cousin, Elizabeth. There is even another famous portrait of them playing as children. Dido DID inherit money from both her uncle and her father. Dido DID marry a white man who was the son of a clergyman according to members of her own household. One thing the film got wrong — after it had already ended — was the number of children Dido and John had. They had at least THREE children, not just the two mentioned before the credits.

  • Sara  On April 3, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    Do we expect any less from a proud racist?

    • Robert Henderson  On April 3, 2016 at 7:48 pm

      It is always useful to have a terminally naive member of the politically correct crowd displaying their wares as a reminder of the damage they have done collectively through their stupidity and hypocrisy.

  • alicia sedgeworth  On April 11, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    BELLE is wonderful film on every level. I am a voracious viewer of films and this may be the best I’ve ever seen. The writing/dialogue is intelligent and interesting ( as would be expected in the household of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of all of England). The acting is Superb — with a capital “S.” The cinematography and score are lush, beautiful, and memorable. Everyone should see this truly great film.

  • alicia sedgeworth  On April 11, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    Oh, and as for Miss Dido and Miss Elizabeth having REALLY been true playmates who grew up together and were very close, there is also the famous portrait of them as very young children laughing mischievously down from the CEILING. “Propaganda?” I think not.

  • Aretha Morgan  On August 20, 2016 at 8:15 am

    First off, let me say, a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Good thing l am a INDIVIDUAL. So l don’t allow anyone to speak for me or think for me. I found this picture to be a good one, and well acted.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: