Tuesday, July 15, 2014

the film | belle

This past Sunday, I went to see a film that my good friend Lacy recommended to me: Amma Asante's Belle.

This film has everything: justice, human rights, family, coming-of-age, and romance. Set in the 1700s when slavery still flourished, Belle tells the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the mixed-race natural daughter of an English naval officer who was raised as a proper gentleman's daughter.

Dido's family doesn't treat her will full respect. She doesn't dine with her family; if guests arrive, she must wait to meet them afterwards. People gossip about her, usually either intrigued or disgusted. She occupies a lonely space: too high for servants, but too low for those of her rank. Society patronizes and even excludes her both for her sex and her skin.

It is this tension that drives the film: a young woman learning to accept herself in a society that doesn't. Dido is a compelling character, as we can see in her real-life counterpart's portrait. She forges her own path and, in doing so, pursues not only her own happiness but also the dawn of a new, better world.

Seeing this film reminded me of how much I love telling stories—human stories of courage and love and justice. Belle reminds me of how far we've come in the fight for equality and how far we still have to go to ensure it for all.

If you see one film this summer, make it Belle.

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