‘Belle’

*** Warning, spoilers ahead! I recently watched the movie Belle with my mom and can not recommend it enough.

The story takes place in 18th century England and portrays the life of a mixed race woman who is raised by her aristocratic relatives. Belle’s father is a Royal Navy Admiral and leaves on an expedition to the West Indies when Belle is just a child, so Belle is taken to her father’s home in Hampstead Heath, London, where she will be raised by her father’s uncle, the Lord Chief Justice of England.

Given the circumstances of the time, Belle, who is referred to as “Dido” by her father’s family, is given few rights as the product of a slave woman and a white man. Eventually Belle meets an aspiring lawyer named John Davinier, who is studying under her great-uncle. Eventually, Belle and John fall in love, despite her great-uncle’s objections.

Belle is later told to marry Oliver Ashford, who will benefit from Belle’s grand inheritance , which she received after her father died.  Belle’s cousin and closest friend, Elizabeth, also experiences heartbreak in the story. Elizabeth is intent on marrying Oliver Ashford’s brother, James, who is cruel and violent towards Belle. Belle warns Elizabeth of James’ mean intentions, but Elizabeth ignores her and is left broken-hearted when James becomes engaged to another woman. 

Meanwhile, the Zong Massacre, regarding the drowning of hundreds of innocent slaves on a large ship, is brought to the public eye and Belle’s great-uncle is to make the final decision on how the case will be handled. As the Supreme Justice of England, Belle’s great-uncle will determine the right for the ship’s owner to file with the insurance company for the deaths. John Davinier is passionate about the case and informs Belle of the situation, leading to a romance between the two characters. 

I won’t reveal the end, but I highly recommend watching this movie! I absolutely love period dramas (both in television and in film) and this movie did not disappoint. The acting was spectacular and it was wonderful to see glimpses of my beloved Hampstead Heath.

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