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Movie Review

Belle

MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements, some language and brief smoking images.

Reviewed by: Emily Saur
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Genre:
History Romance Drama
Length:
1 hr. 44 min.
Year of Release:
2013
USA Release:
May 2, 2014 (limited—4 theaters)
May 16, 2014 (173 theaters)
May 30, 2014 (wide—525 theaters)
DVD: August 26, 2014
Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Fox Searchlight Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Fox Searchlight Pictures Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Fox Searchlight Pictures Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Fox Searchlight Pictures Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Fox Searchlight Pictures Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Fox Searchlight Pictures Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Fox Searchlight Pictures Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Fox Searchlight Pictures Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Fox Searchlight Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Fox Searchlight Pictures

RACISM—What are the consequences of racial prejudice and false beliefs about the origin of races? Answer

Does the Bible condone slavery? Answer

slavery in in 1700s England / slave trade

about the real Dido Elizabeth Belle

abolition of slavery

Abolition of the British Slave Trade (BBC article)

being of mixed race—advantages and disadvantages at that time in history

William Murray—First Lord of Mansfield and Lord Chief Justice

Featuring: Gugu Mbatha-Raw … Dido Elizabeth Belle
Matthew GoodeCaptain Sir John Lindsay
Emily WatsonLady Mansfield
Tom WilkinsonLord Mansfield
Miranda Richardson … Lady Ashford
Lauren Julien-Box … Young Dido
Natasha Williams … Poor Woman
Alan McKenna … Harry
Penelope Wilton … Lady Mary Murray
Cara Jenkins … Young Elizabeth
Sarah Gadon … Elizabeth Murray
more »
Director: Amma Asante—“A Way of Life” (2004)
Producer: DJ Films
Isle of Man Film
more »
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Fox Searchlight Pictures

“Based on the inspiring true story”

Something is about to change in late eighteenth-century England; a case that plays a major role in the abolition of slavery is being appealed. The movie “Belle” gives viewers a glimpse of what is happening behind the scenes. Dido Belle, the niece of the Earl of Mansfield who is presiding over the case, is the illegitimate daughter of Captain Sir John Lindsay and a slave. Her ancestry causes controversy everywhere, but that does not stop Dido and aspiring lawyer John Davinier from trying to bring justice in the case involving murder of 133 Africans. Will they be able to bring justice?

The movie has an overall theme of the value of life. Even though Captain Lindsay committed fornication, he provided for his daughter and assured her that he loved her, which was the right thing to do. Lindsay initially faced opposition in doing so from the Earl of Mansfield, but he assures him “What is right can never be impossible.” Jesus says something quite similar, saying that with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). Dido also is willing to go against her adoptive father to work toward justice. Dido acts well in doing this, as Jesus says family should be less dear to someone than righteousness (Matthew 10:34-37).

John Davinier and Dido value human life strongly, regardless of status and skin color, whereas many characters seem to have issues with looking past monetary worth and skin color. God wants us to look past both of these traits (Luke 16:19-35 and 1 Samuel 16:7). Also, God’s Word says all people are made in His image (Genesis 1:26), so we should not look down on people because of their skin color. Many characters look down on John because he is the son of a vicar, and many characters seem to have a low view of the clergy, since they had low status. God also has much to say against these worldly judgments (Matthew 6:18-22).

RACISM—What are the consequences of racial prejudice and false beliefs about the origin of races? Answer

Racism, Racial Issues and ChristianityGet biblical answers to racial hot-topics. Where did the races come from? How did skin color come about? Why is it important to have a biblical foundation for such issues?

John’s morals don’t seem to be based on his faith, however. He says “My father turns to the Bible, I turn to the law,” and says religion can’t be the only way to guide morals. However, he does later acknowledge that Dido not being treated like a slave was only possible by the grace of God. Even though John is deeply convicted of his morals, we as Christians must keep in mind that God’s Word should be the base of all of our decisions and beliefs (Matthew 7:24).

There is one instance of sexual misconduct in which a man gropes Dido’s breasts. He is very rude to her previously and makes sexual comments about her cousin as well. There are many low cut dresses in this movie. “Intercourse” is referred to and “sharing the bed” with someone is mentioned.

God’s name is used in vain at least three times (characters say “Good Lord,” and “damn” is heard.

Overall, the movie is an enthralling tale of the fight for justice and the dignity of human life, which should not be judge by monetary value or skin color.

Violence: Mild / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive
Positive—This movie was entertaining, as well as educational. There was very little objectionable content, which was refreshing.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—S. Mcdonald, age 40 (USA)
Positive—Enjoyed the movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—K, age 56 (USA)
Movie Critics

…at once sweeping and intimate… Melodramatic and grounded in history, “Belle” is enough of an old-fashioned entertainment that it could have been made in classic Hollywood.
—Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

…like a Jane Austen novel spiked with an extra shot of social conscience. …Belle subtly skewers the absurd rules and hypocrisies of class. But the real takeaway is Mbatha-Raw. She makes a case for why she ought to be a star. [B+]
—Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly

…The pleasures of Jane Austen and the horrors of the British slave trade make a surprisingly elegant fit in Amma Asante's handsome period piece. …
—Justin Chang, Variety

…familiar character actors, awkward history lessons and a plodding pace. …Ultimately “Belle” never quite escapes its middle-brow roots…
—Stephen Whitty, The Star-Ledger (New Jersey)

…unsatisfying but not uninteresting oddity. It renders another historical story about race with exquisite taste but not much in the way of passion. … [2/4]
—Lou Lumenick, New York Post

…Period piece is a handsome if uneasy blend of history and courtship drama. …
—John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter

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