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Belle (2013 film)

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Belle
Belle poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAmma Asante
Written byMisan Sagay
Produced byDamian Jones
Starring
CinematographyBen Smithard
Edited byPia Di Ciaula
Victoria Boydell
Music byRachel Portman
Production
companies
Distributed byFox Searchlight Pictures
Release dates
  • 8 September 2013 (2013-09-08) (TIFF)
  • 2 May 2014 (2014-05-02) (United States)
  • 13 June 2014 (2014-06-13) (United Kingdom)
Running time
104 minutes[1]
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Budget$10.9 million
Box office$16.5 million[2]

Belle is a 2013 British period drama film directed by Amma Asante, written by Misan Sagay and produced by Damian Jones. It stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson, Miranda Richardson, Penelope Wilton, Sam Reid, Matthew Goode, Emily Watson, Sarah Gadon, Tom Felton, and James Norton.[3][4]

The film is inspired by the 1779 painting of Dido Elizabeth Belle beside her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray at Kenwood House, which was commissioned by their great-uncle, William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, then Lord Chief Justice of England. Very little is known about the life of Dido Belle, who was born in the West Indies and was the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of Mansfield's nephew, Sir John Lindsay. She is found living in poverty by her father and entrusted to the care of Mansfield and his wife. The fictional film centres on Dido's relationship with an aspiring lawyer; it is set at a time of legal significance, as a court case is heard on what became known as the Zong massacre, when slaves were thrown overboard from a slave ship and the owner filed with his insurance company for the losses. Lord Mansfield ruled on this case in England's Court of King's Bench in 1786, in a decision seen to contribute to the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act of 1807.

Discover more about Belle (2013 film) related topics

Historical drama

Historical drama

A historical drama is a dramatic work set in a past time period, usually used in the context of film and television.

Amma Asante

Amma Asante

Amma Asante is a British filmmaker, screenwriter, former actress, and Chancellor at Norwich University of the Arts, who was born in London to parents from Ghana. Her love for the film industry started when she received her first role in BBC's Grange Hill. Asante wrote and produced the 1998 BBC Two series Brothers and Sisters, starring David Oyelowo. She was a childhood friend of model Naomi Campbell, whom she met when they were seven years old.

Damian Jones (producer)

Damian Jones (producer)

Damian Jones is a British independent film producer.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Gugulethu Sophia Mbatha-Raw is a British actress who is known for her performances on stage and screen. In 2017 she was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) by Queen Elizabeth II for services to drama. In February 2021, Mbatha-Raw was appointed a global Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Miranda Richardson

Miranda Richardson

Miranda Jane Richardson is an English actress. She made her film debut playing Ruth Ellis in Dance with a Stranger (1985) and went on to receive Academy Award nominations for Damage (1992) and Tom & Viv (1994). A seven-time BAFTA Award nominee, she won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Damage. She has also been nominated for seven Golden Globe Awards, winning twice for Enchanted April (1992) and the TV film Fatherland (1994). In 1996, one critic asserted that she is "the greatest actress of our time in any medium" after she appeared in Orlando at the Edinburgh International Festival.

Matthew Goode

Matthew Goode

Matthew William Goode is a British actor. Goode made his screen debut in 2002 with ABC's TV film feature Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. His breakthrough role was in the romantic comedy Chasing Liberty (2004), for which he received a nomination at Teen Choice Awards for Choice Breakout Movie Star – Male. He then appeared in a string of supporting roles in films like Woody Allen's Match Point (2005), the German-British romantic comedy Imagine Me and You (2006), and the period drama Copying Beethoven (2006). He won praise for his performance as Charles Ryder in Julian Jarrold's adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited (2008), and as Ozymandias in the American neo-noir superhero film Watchmen (2009), based on the comics by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. He then starred in romantic comedy Leap Year (2010) and Australian drama Burning Man (2011), the latter earning him a nomination for Best Actor at the Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards.

Emily Watson

Emily Watson

Emily Margaret Watson is an English actress. She began her career on stage and joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1992. In 2002, she starred in productions of Twelfth Night and Uncle Vanya at the Donmar Warehouse, and was nominated for the 2003 Olivier Award for Best Actress for the latter. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her debut film role as Bess McNeil in Lars von Trier's Breaking the Waves (1996) and for her role as Jacqueline du Pré in Hilary and Jackie (1998), winning the British Independent Film Award for Best Actress for the latter. For her role as Margaret Humphreys in Oranges and Sunshine (2010), she was also nominated for the AACTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

James Norton (actor)

James Norton (actor)

James Geoffrey Ian Norton is an English film, television, and stage actor. He is known for roles in the television series Happy Valley, Grantchester, War & Peace and McMafia. He earned a nomination for the British Academy Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2015 for his performance as ex-convict Tommy Lee Royce in Happy Valley.

Dido Elizabeth Belle

Dido Elizabeth Belle

Dido Elizabeth Belle was a British heiress and a member of the Lindsay family of Evelix. She was born into slavery and illegitimate; her mother, Maria Belle, was an enslaved Black woman in the British West Indies. Her father was Sir John Lindsay, a British career naval officer who was stationed there. Her father was knighted and promoted to admiral. Lindsay took Belle with him when he returned to England in 1765, entrusting her upbringing to his uncle William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, and his wife Elizabeth Murray, Countess of Mansfield. The Murrays educated Belle, bringing her up as a free gentlewoman at their Kenwood House, together with another great-niece, Lady Elizabeth Murray, whose mother had died. Lady Elizabeth and Belle were second cousins. Belle lived there for 30 years. In his will of 1793, Lord Mansfield provided an outright sum and an annuity to her, making her an heiress.

Kenwood House

Kenwood House

Kenwood House is a former stately home in Hampstead, London, on the northern boundary of Hampstead Heath. The house was originally constructed in the 17th century and served as a residence for the Earls of Mansfield during the 18th and 19th centuries.

John Lindsay (Royal Navy officer)

John Lindsay (Royal Navy officer)

Rear Admiral Sir John Lindsay, was a British naval officer of the 18th century, who achieved the rank of admiral late in his career. Joining the Navy during the Seven Years' War, he served off France, followed by service for several years as captain of a warship stationed in the West Indies. After war's end, he returned to Britain, serving as an MP for Aberdeen Burghs from 1767 to 1768. From August 1769 to March 1772 Lindsay was promoted to commodore and assigned as commander-in-chief of the East Indies Station. He resigned from the Navy for a period following the Battle of Ushant (1778) off the coast of France, during the American War of Independence. In 1784 he was assigned as commodore and commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean. In the last year of his life, he was promoted to rear admiral as an honorary position, as his failing health prevented him from taking a command.

Court of King's Bench (England)

Court of King's Bench (England)

The Court of King's Bench, formally known as The Court of the King Before the King Himself, was a court of common law in the English legal system. Created in the late 12th to early 13th century from the curia regis, the King's Bench initially followed the monarch on his travels. The King's Bench finally joined the Court of Common Pleas and Exchequer of Pleas in Westminster Hall in 1318, making its last travels in 1421. The King's Bench was merged into the High Court of Justice by the Supreme Court of Judicature Act 1873, after which point the King's Bench was a division within the High Court. The King's Bench was staffed by one Chief Justice and usually three Puisne Justices.

Plot

Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsay was born in 1761, the natural daughter of Captain Sir John Lindsay, a British Royal Navy officer, with Maria Belle, an enslaved African woman in the West Indies. After Dido's mother's death in 1769, Captain Lindsay takes Dido from the West Indies slums and entrusts her to his uncle William Murray, First Earl of Mansfield, the Lord Chief Justice, and his wife Elizabeth, who live at Kenwood House, an estate in Hampstead (then outside London).

Lord and Lady Mansfield raise Dido as a free gentlewoman with their other great-niece Lady Elizabeth Murray, whose widowed father had remarried to a woman who pressured him to disown Elizabeth. When the cousins reach adulthood, the Mansfields commission an oil portrait of their two great-nieces, but Dido fears she will be portrayed as a subordinate, similar to other portraits she has seen depicting aristocrats with black servants.

Dido's father dies, leaving her a vast sum of £2,000 a year, making her an heiress. Lady Elizabeth, by contrast, will have no income from her father, as his son from his new wife has been named sole heir. Arrangements are made for Elizabeth to have her coming-out to society, but Lord and Lady Mansfield believe no gentleman will agree to marry Dido because of her mixed race. Fearing lower-ranking men will only marry her for her wealth, and that a marriage to a lower-status man will reduce her rank and shame the family, Lord Mansfield decides she will travel to London with her cousin but will not be "out" to society, and he asks her to take her spinster great-aunt Mary's place as the keeper of the house, with the implication that she will not marry.

Lord Mansfield agrees to take the vicar's son, John Davinier, into a law pupillage. In 1783, Mansfield hears the case of Gregson v. Gilbert, regarding the payment of an insurance claim, for slaves killed when thrown overboard by the captain of a slave-ship — an event now known as the Zong massacre. Dido helps her uncle with his correspondence. After John tells her about the Zong case, she begins sneaking correspondence to him which he believes will advance the cause of the abolitionists. Lord Mansfield and John have a disagreement on the main issue of the case. John is told leave and not to see Dido again, and his pupillage is at an end.

Dido's aunts, Lady Mansfield and Lady Mary Murray, seek to steer Dido into an engagement with Oliver Ashford, son of a scheming grand dame and younger brother to bigoted James Ashford. At first, James is interested in Elizabeth but stops courting her once he discovers she will have no inheritance. Oliver, who is without fortune, proposes to Dido and she accepts, although she continues to see John in secret. James takes Dido aside, tells her she will disgrace his family's name, then insults and gropes her.

Dido later tells Elizabeth of James' true character, offering to give her part of her inheritance as a dowry so she can find a different match. Lord Mansfield finds out about Dido's visits to John and confronts them, and John professes his love for her. Sometime later, she meets Oliver and breaks off their engagement.

Dido is relieved when the painting is unveiled, she is shown as Elizabeth's equal. She tells Lord Mansfield that the portrait commission proves that he can defy convention.

Dido sneaks into the balcony of the Inn of Court, to hear Lord Mansfield narrowly rule that the Gregson slave-trading syndicate is not due insurance payments for the slaves the crew threw overboard during the voyage. The ship's officers claimed they ordered this action because they were out of potable water, but Lord Mansfield had discovered that the Zong passed by many ports without stopping for more water, before murdering the slaves. The slaves' quarters were overcrowded, making them sick and not likely to fetch a high price at auction, so the officers had decided they would be worth more in insurance payments after their "loss", and so threw them overboard. When Lord Mansfield sees John and Dido outside the Court after his ruling, he says that Dido can only marry a gentleman. Therefore, he agrees to resume John's pupillage, so that he can become a lawyer. Dido and John embrace, both in full acknowledgement of their romantic feelings.

In the credits we see Dido and John married, having two sons. Elizabeth also married and had three children, and their painting hung at Kenwood House until 1922, when it was moved to Scone Palace near Perth, the birthplace of Lord Mansfield.

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Legitimacy (family law)

Legitimacy (family law)

Legitimacy, in traditional Western common law, is the status of a child born to parents who are legally married to each other, and of a child conceived before the parents obtain a legal divorce. Conversely, illegitimacy, also known as bastardy, has been the status of a child born outside marriage, such a child being known as a bastard, a love child, a natural child, or illegitimate. In Scots law, the terms natural son and natural daughter bear the same implications.

Royal Navy

Royal Navy

The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by English and Scottish kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years' War against France. The modern Royal Navy traces its origins to the early 16th century; the oldest of the UK's armed services, it is consequently known as the Senior Service.

West Indies

West Indies

The West Indies is a subregion of North America, surrounded by the North Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, which comprises 13 independent island countries and 18 dependencies, and three archipelagos: the Greater Antilles, the Lesser Antilles, and the Lucayan Archipelago.

Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales

Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales

The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales is the Head of the Judiciary of England and Wales and the President of the Courts of England and Wales.

Kenwood House

Kenwood House

Kenwood House is a former stately home in Hampstead, London, on the northern boundary of Hampstead Heath. The house was originally constructed in the 17th century and served as a residence for the Earls of Mansfield during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Hampstead

Hampstead

Hampstead is an area in London, which lies 4 miles (6.4 km) northwest of Charing Cross, and extends from the A5 road to Hampstead Heath, a large, hilly expanse of parkland. The area forms the northwest part of the London Borough of Camden, a borough in Inner London which for the purposes of the London Plan is designated as part of Central London.

London

London

London is the capital and largest city of England and the United Kingdom, with a population of just under 9 million. It stands on the River Thames in south-east England at the head of a 50-mile (80 km) estuary down to the North Sea, and has been a major settlement for two millennia. The City of London, its ancient core and financial centre, was founded by the Romans as Londinium and retains its medieval boundaries. The City of Westminster, to the west of the City of London, has for centuries hosted the national government and parliament. Since the 19th century, the name "London" has also referred to the metropolis around this core, historically split between the counties of Middlesex, Essex, Surrey, Kent, and Hertfordshire, which since 1965 has largely comprised Greater London, which is governed by 33 local authorities and the Greater London Authority.

Spinster

Spinster

Spinster is a term referring to an unmarried woman who is older than what is perceived as the prime age range during which women usually marry. It can also indicate that a woman is considered unlikely to ever marry. The term originally denoted a woman whose occupation was to spin. A synonymous term is old maid. The closest equivalent term for males is "bachelor" or "confirmed bachelor", but this generally does not carry the same connotations in reference to age and perceived desirability in marriage.

Pupillage

Pupillage

A pupillage, in England and Wales, Northern Ireland, Kenya, Malaysia, Pakistan and Hong Kong, is the final, vocational stage of training for those wishing to become practising barristers. Pupillage is similar to an apprenticeship, during which bar graduates build on what they have learnt during the Bar Professional Training Course or equivalent by combining it with practical work experience in a set of barristers' chambers or pupillage training organisation.

Abolitionism

Abolitionism

Abolitionism, or the abolitionist movement, is the movement to end slavery. In Western Europe and the Americas, abolitionism was a historic movement that sought to end the Atlantic slave trade and liberate the enslaved people.

Perth, Scotland

Perth, Scotland

Perth is a city in central Scotland, on the banks of the River Tay. It is the administrative centre of Perth and Kinross council area and the historic county town of Perthshire. It had a population of about 47,430 in 2018.

Cast

  • Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Dido Elizabeth Belle, the protagonist. She is a strong-willed and well-educated young woman, born from Captain Sir John Lindsay's affair with an enslaved woman. Since her father acknowledged her as his child and later left her a considerable inheritance, she is part of the high society and free not to pursue a marriage. She gradually befriends John Davinier over the Zong case, and her input eventually leads Lord Mansfield to rule against the traders.
  • Tom Wilkinson as William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, the great-uncle of Dido and Elizabeth (Dido's father being the son of Lord Mansfield's sister, and Elizabeth's father the son of Lord Mansfield's brother), who is their guardian since they were children, and whom they address as "Papa". As Lord Chief Justice, he is the most powerful judge in England. Upon Dido's arrival to his mansion, he quickly takes to loving her as if she was his own, despite her heritage.
  • Sam Reid as John Davinier, a vicar's son who seeks apprenticeship from Lord Mansfield in pursuit of a career as a lawyer. He's idealistic and passionate in his moral convictions, and meets with an abolitionist group.
  • Emily Watson as Elizabeth Murray, Countess of Mansfield, whom the girls address as "Mama". She is very caring toward her nieces, although she sees order and etiquette as essential. She tries very hard to find Elizabeth a suitable match.
  • Sarah Gadon as Lady Elizabeth Murray, Elizabeth is cheerful and affectionate toward her cousin Dido, and the two of them are inseparable since childhood and consider themselves sisters. Due to Elizabeth's father having a male heir from his second marriage, she's left without a dowry, which complicates her finding a suitable husband.
  • Miranda Richardson as Lady Ashford, a scheming lady who attempts to marry off her two sons to the Mansfield girls. She feels contempt for Dido's heritage, but she's able to put that aside in order to let her son James put his hands on Dido's dowry.
  • Penelope Wilton as Lady Mary Murray, the manager of the household and governess of Dido and Elizabeth. Her demeanor is firm but caring, and teaches Elizabeth and Dido the ways of etiquette, music and embroidery. She is a spinster but had a one-time gentleman caller, whom her mother prevented her from marrying.
  • Tom Felton[5] as James Ashford, the malevolent firstborn of Lord and Lady Ashford who also shares his mother's contempt for Dido's heritage and even assaults her at one point. He courts Elizabeth until he discovers her impoverished status.
  • James Norton as Oliver Ashford, the younger son of Lord and Lady Ashford. He is attracted to Dido's beauty and wealth, but he is not completely immune from his family's prejudices.
  • Matthew Goode as Captain Sir John Lindsay, the birth father of Dido. After Dido's mother died, he acknowledged his daughter and took her to the Mansfield household, begging his uncle and aunt to take her into their guardianship. He dies while Dido is still young, without her having a chance to know him better.
  • Alex Jennings as Lord Ashford, a high-ranked judge and Lady Ashford's husband. He hurries Lord Mansfield toward a decision on the Zong case, and has a kinder disposition than his wife and sons.
  • Bethan Mary-James as Mabel, a dark-skinned servant at the Mansfield household. Dido worries that she may be a slave, but Lord Mansfield assures her Mabel is free and being paid a "very respectable" wage.
  • James Northcote as Mr. Vaughn, Elizabeth's more gentle suitor.

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Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Gugulethu Sophia Mbatha-Raw is a British actress who is known for her performances on stage and screen. In 2017 she was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) by Queen Elizabeth II for services to drama. In February 2021, Mbatha-Raw was appointed a global Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Dido Elizabeth Belle

Dido Elizabeth Belle

Dido Elizabeth Belle was a British heiress and a member of the Lindsay family of Evelix. She was born into slavery and illegitimate; her mother, Maria Belle, was an enslaved Black woman in the British West Indies. Her father was Sir John Lindsay, a British career naval officer who was stationed there. Her father was knighted and promoted to admiral. Lindsay took Belle with him when he returned to England in 1765, entrusting her upbringing to his uncle William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, and his wife Elizabeth Murray, Countess of Mansfield. The Murrays educated Belle, bringing her up as a free gentlewoman at their Kenwood House, together with another great-niece, Lady Elizabeth Murray, whose mother had died. Lady Elizabeth and Belle were second cousins. Belle lived there for 30 years. In his will of 1793, Lord Mansfield provided an outright sum and an annuity to her, making her an heiress.

Sam Reid (actor)

Sam Reid (actor)

Sam Reid is an Australian actor. He is known for his work in Hatfields & McCoys (2012), Belle (2013), '71 (2014), The Astronaut Wives Club (2015), Despite the Falling Snow (2016), Prime Suspect 1973 (2017), The Hunting (2019) and as Lestat de Lioncourt in Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire (2022–present). His performance in the lattermost received widespread critical acclaim. He was nominated twice for the AACTA Award for Best Lead Actor in a Television Drama for Lambs of God (2019) and The Newsreader (2021–present).

Emily Watson

Emily Watson

Emily Margaret Watson is an English actress. She began her career on stage and joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1992. In 2002, she starred in productions of Twelfth Night and Uncle Vanya at the Donmar Warehouse, and was nominated for the 2003 Olivier Award for Best Actress for the latter. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her debut film role as Bess McNeil in Lars von Trier's Breaking the Waves (1996) and for her role as Jacqueline du Pré in Hilary and Jackie (1998), winning the British Independent Film Award for Best Actress for the latter. For her role as Margaret Humphreys in Oranges and Sunshine (2010), she was also nominated for the AACTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

Sarah Gadon

Sarah Gadon

Sarah Lynn Gadon is a Canadian actress. She began her acting career guest-starring in a number of television series, such as Are You Afraid of the Dark? (1999), Mutant X (2002), and Dark Oracle (2004). She also worked as a voice actress on various television productions. Gadon gained recognition for her roles in David Cronenberg's films A Dangerous Method (2011), Cosmopolis (2012), and Maps to the Stars (2014). She also starred in Denis Villeneuve's thriller Enemy (2013), the period drama Belle (2013), and the action horror film Dracula Untold (2014).

Miranda Richardson

Miranda Richardson

Miranda Jane Richardson is an English actress. She made her film debut playing Ruth Ellis in Dance with a Stranger (1985) and went on to receive Academy Award nominations for Damage (1992) and Tom & Viv (1994). A seven-time BAFTA Award nominee, she won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Damage. She has also been nominated for seven Golden Globe Awards, winning twice for Enchanted April (1992) and the TV film Fatherland (1994). In 1996, one critic asserted that she is "the greatest actress of our time in any medium" after she appeared in Orlando at the Edinburgh International Festival.

Penelope Wilton

Penelope Wilton

Dame Penelope Alice Wilton, formerly styled Penelope, Lady Holm, is an English actress.

James Norton (actor)

James Norton (actor)

James Geoffrey Ian Norton is an English film, television, and stage actor. He is known for roles in the television series Happy Valley, Grantchester, War & Peace and McMafia. He earned a nomination for the British Academy Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2015 for his performance as ex-convict Tommy Lee Royce in Happy Valley.

Matthew Goode

Matthew Goode

Matthew William Goode is a British actor. Goode made his screen debut in 2002 with ABC's TV film feature Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. His breakthrough role was in the romantic comedy Chasing Liberty (2004), for which he received a nomination at Teen Choice Awards for Choice Breakout Movie Star – Male. He then appeared in a string of supporting roles in films like Woody Allen's Match Point (2005), the German-British romantic comedy Imagine Me and You (2006), and the period drama Copying Beethoven (2006). He won praise for his performance as Charles Ryder in Julian Jarrold's adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited (2008), and as Ozymandias in the American neo-noir superhero film Watchmen (2009), based on the comics by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. He then starred in romantic comedy Leap Year (2010) and Australian drama Burning Man (2011), the latter earning him a nomination for Best Actor at the Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards.

John Lindsay (Royal Navy officer)

John Lindsay (Royal Navy officer)

Rear Admiral Sir John Lindsay, was a British naval officer of the 18th century, who achieved the rank of admiral late in his career. Joining the Navy during the Seven Years' War, he served off France, followed by service for several years as captain of a warship stationed in the West Indies. After war's end, he returned to Britain, serving as an MP for Aberdeen Burghs from 1767 to 1768. From August 1769 to March 1772 Lindsay was promoted to commodore and assigned as commander-in-chief of the East Indies Station. He resigned from the Navy for a period following the Battle of Ushant (1778) off the coast of France, during the American War of Independence. In 1784 he was assigned as commodore and commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean. In the last year of his life, he was promoted to rear admiral as an honorary position, as his failing health prevented him from taking a command.

Alex Jennings

Alex Jennings

Alex Michael Jennings is an English actor of the stage and screen, who worked extensively with the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre. For his work on the London stage, Jennings received three Olivier Awards, winning for Too Clever by Half (1988), Peer Gynt (1996), and My Fair Lady (2003). He is the only performer to have won Olivier awards in the drama, musical, and comedy categories.

James Northcote (actor)

James Northcote (actor)

James Northcote is an English actor and producer who has appeared in The Last Kingdom ,The Imitation Game, Nymphomaniac, Anna Karenina and Wuthering Heights.

Painting

1779 painting of Dido Elizabeth Belle (1761–1804) and her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray (1760–1825).
1779 painting of Dido Elizabeth Belle (1761–1804) and her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray (1760–1825).

The 1779 painting, once thought to be by Johann Zoffany,[6] is now attributed to David Martin.[7] The painting hung in Kenwood House until 1922 and now hangs at Scone Palace in Perthshire, Scotland. It was one of the first European portraits to portray a black subject on an equal eye-line with a white aristocrat, though distinctions are implied by the poses, as Elizabeth's "formality and bookishness are contrasted with the wild and exotically turbanned 'natural' figure of Belle."[8][9]

The painting is replicated in the film with the faces of the actresses portraying the characters replacing those in the original. Dido's finger-to-cheek gesture is absent in the fictionalised version, as is her feathered turban. The original picture is shown on screen at the end of the film.

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Dido Elizabeth Belle

Dido Elizabeth Belle

Dido Elizabeth Belle was a British heiress and a member of the Lindsay family of Evelix. She was born into slavery and illegitimate; her mother, Maria Belle, was an enslaved Black woman in the British West Indies. Her father was Sir John Lindsay, a British career naval officer who was stationed there. Her father was knighted and promoted to admiral. Lindsay took Belle with him when he returned to England in 1765, entrusting her upbringing to his uncle William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, and his wife Elizabeth Murray, Countess of Mansfield. The Murrays educated Belle, bringing her up as a free gentlewoman at their Kenwood House, together with another great-niece, Lady Elizabeth Murray, whose mother had died. Lady Elizabeth and Belle were second cousins. Belle lived there for 30 years. In his will of 1793, Lord Mansfield provided an outright sum and an annuity to her, making her an heiress.

David Martin (artist)

David Martin (artist)

David Martin was a Scottish painter and engraver. Born in Fife, he studied in Italy and England, before gaining a reputation as a portrait painter.

Kenwood House

Kenwood House

Kenwood House is a former stately home in Hampstead, London, on the northern boundary of Hampstead Heath. The house was originally constructed in the 17th century and served as a residence for the Earls of Mansfield during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Scone Palace

Scone Palace

Scone Palace is a Category A-listed historic house near the village of Scone and the city of Perth, Scotland. Built in red sandstone with a castellated roof, it is an example of the Gothic Revival style in Scotland.

Perthshire

Perthshire

Perthshire, officially the County of Perth, is a historic county and registration county in central Scotland. Geographically it extends from Strathmore in the east, to the Pass of Drumochter in the north, Rannoch Moor and Ben Lui in the west, and Aberfoyle in the south; it borders the counties of Inverness-shire and Aberdeenshire to the north, Angus to the east, Fife, Kinross-shire, Clackmannanshire, Stirlingshire and Dunbartonshire to the south and Argyllshire to the west. It was a local government county from 1890 to 1930.

Scotland

Scotland

Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain, mainland Scotland has a 96-mile (154-kilometre) border with England to the southeast and is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, the North Sea to the northeast and east, and the Irish Sea to the south. It also contains more than 790 islands, principally in the archipelagos of the Hebrides and the Northern Isles. Most of the population, including the capital Edinburgh, is concentrated in the Central Belt—the plain between the Scottish Highlands and the Southern Uplands—in the Scottish Lowlands.

Production

Filming began on 24 September 2012. The film was shot on location in the Isle of Man,[10][11] Oxford[12] and London. It is the first major British motion picture to be shot in true-4K, using Sony's F65 CineAlta digital production camera.[13] The film was produced by DJ Films, Isle of Man Film, and Pinewood Pictures with support from the BFI.[14]

Production designer Simon Bowles created the 18th-century Bristol Docks on the Isle of Man and created Kenwood House, based on a number of stately homes in the London area.

Original music for the film was composed by Rachel Portman.[15]

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Isle of Man

Isle of Man

The Isle of Man, also known as Mann, is a self-governing Crown Dependency in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland. As head of state, Charles III holds the title Lord of Mann and is represented by a Lieutenant Governor. The government of the United Kingdom is responsible for the isle's military defence and represents it abroad.

Isle of Man Film

Isle of Man Film

Isle of Man Film is a regional screen agency, part of Isle of Man Government’s Department of Economic Development. They drive inward investment in relation to film and the creative industries. Since 1995 Isle of Man Film has built a worldwide reputation, having co-financed and co-produced over 100 feature film and television dramas which have all filmed on the Isle of Man. They are one of the busiest areas of film production in the British Isles.

British Film Institute

British Film Institute

The British Film Institute (BFI) is a film and television charitable organisation which promotes and preserves film-making and television in the United Kingdom. The BFI uses funds provided by the National Lottery to encourage film production, distribution, and education. It is sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and partially funded under the British Film Institute Act 1949.

Simon Bowles

Simon Bowles

Simon Bowles is a British feature film production designer. Bowles has worked with directors Armando Iannucci, Amma Asante, Oliver Parker, Roger Michell, Edgar Wright and Neil Marshall. He trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

Rachel Portman

Rachel Portman

Rachel Mary Berkeley Portman, OBE is an English composer who is best known for scoring films.

Historical references

The film is a work of historical fiction, inspired by a painting and the evidence that Dido was brought up at Kenwood House. The relative lack of details about Dido Elizabeth Belle allowed screenwriter Misan Sagay considerable artistic licence in framing the young woman's story, within the broader historical context of the slave economy and the abolition movement.

The only other direct historical reference made about Belle, other than the painting and American loyalist Thomas Hutchinson's personal diary,[16][17] appear in Elements of Moral Science, a 1790 work by the Scottish professor of moral philosophy James Beattie, who met Belle and in the book states she recited poetry with "a degree of elegance"[18] equal to any English child of her age, arguing against the then prevailing theory that "negroes are naturally and utterly incapable of distinct articulation".[18]

William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, who was Lord Chief Justice of England from 1756 to 1788, presided over two important cases, Somerset v Stewart in 1772 and the Zong insurance claims case in 1783, which helped lay the groundwork for Britain's Slave Trade Act 1807. In the film his concluding line at the end of the Zong case - "the state of slavery (is) so odious that nothing can be suffered to support it" - was historically actually quoted by him in the Somerset v Stewart case eleven years before.[19] As in the film, he was the great-uncle of Dido Elizabeth Belle and Lady Elizabeth Murray.

At the suggestion of the producers, HarperCollins published a companion book, Belle - The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice (2014), by biographer Paula Byrne, recounting the lives of the film's principal characters.

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Kenwood House

Kenwood House

Kenwood House is a former stately home in Hampstead, London, on the northern boundary of Hampstead Heath. The house was originally constructed in the 17th century and served as a residence for the Earls of Mansfield during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Thomas Hutchinson (governor)

Thomas Hutchinson (governor)

Thomas Hutchinson was a businessman, historian, and a prominent Loyalist politician of the Province of Massachusetts Bay in the years before the American Revolution. He has been referred to as "the most important figure on the loyalist side in pre-Revolutionary Massachusetts". He was a successful merchant and politician, and was active at high levels of the Massachusetts government for many years, serving as lieutenant governor and then governor from 1758 to 1774. He was a politically polarizing figure who came to be identified by John Adams and Samuel Adams as a proponent of hated British taxes, despite his initial opposition to Parliamentary tax laws directed at the colonies. He was blamed by Lord North for being a significant contributor to the tensions that led to the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War.

James Beattie (poet)

James Beattie (poet)

James Beattie was a Scottish poet, moralist, and philosopher.

William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield

William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield

William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, PC, SL was a British barrister, politician and judge noted for his reform of English law. Born to Scottish nobility, he was educated in Perth, Scotland, before moving to London at the age of 13 to take up a place at Westminster School. He was accepted into Christ Church, Oxford, in May 1723, and graduated four years later. Returning to London from Oxford, he was called to the Bar by Lincoln's Inn on 23 November 1730, and quickly gained a reputation as an excellent barrister.

Somerset v Stewart

Somerset v Stewart

Somerset v Stewart (1772) 98 ER 499 is a judgment of the English Court of King's Bench in 1772, relating to the right of an enslaved person on English soil not to be forcibly removed from the country and sent to Jamaica for sale. Lord Mansfield decided that:The state of slavery is of such a nature that it is incapable of being introduced on any reasons, moral or political, but only by positive law, which preserves its force long after the reasons, occasions, and time itself from whence it was created, is erased from memory. It is so odious, that nothing can be suffered to support it, but positive law. Whatever inconveniences, therefore, may follow from the decision, I cannot say this case is allowed or approved by the law of England; and therefore the black must be discharged.

Slave Trade Act 1807

Slave Trade Act 1807

The Slave Trade Act 1807, officially An Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom prohibiting the slave trade in the British Empire. Although it did not abolish the practice of slavery, it did encourage British action to press other nation states to abolish their own slave trades.

Dido Elizabeth Belle

Dido Elizabeth Belle

Dido Elizabeth Belle was a British heiress and a member of the Lindsay family of Evelix. She was born into slavery and illegitimate; her mother, Maria Belle, was an enslaved Black woman in the British West Indies. Her father was Sir John Lindsay, a British career naval officer who was stationed there. Her father was knighted and promoted to admiral. Lindsay took Belle with him when he returned to England in 1765, entrusting her upbringing to his uncle William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, and his wife Elizabeth Murray, Countess of Mansfield. The Murrays educated Belle, bringing her up as a free gentlewoman at their Kenwood House, together with another great-niece, Lady Elizabeth Murray, whose mother had died. Lady Elizabeth and Belle were second cousins. Belle lived there for 30 years. In his will of 1793, Lord Mansfield provided an outright sum and an annuity to her, making her an heiress.

HarperCollins

HarperCollins

HarperCollins Publishers LLC is one of the Big Five English-language publishing companies, alongside Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and Macmillan. The company is headquartered in New York City and is a subsidiary of News Corp. The name is a combination of several publishing firm names: Harper & Row, an American publishing company acquired in 1987—whose own name was the result of an earlier merger of Harper & Brothers and Row, Peterson & Company—together with Scottish publishing company William Collins, Sons, acquired in 1989.

Paula Byrne

Paula Byrne

Paula Jayne Byrne, Lady Bate,, is a British biographer, novelist, and literary critic.

Historical accuracy

Sagay chose to set the major events; Belle's and Elizabeth's love affairs and the Zong case, in the same year the painting was made - when Belle was about 18. In reality, Belle married at 32, long after Lady Elizabeth was married and no longer in touch with Belle.[20]

John Davinier was in real life a French manservant at Kenwood, not an English apprentice lawyer.[21]

James Walvin OBE, professor emeritus of the University of York, said of Belle: "Much of the historical evidence is there – though festooned in the film with imaginary relishes and fictional tricks. Partly accurate, the whole thing reminded me of the classic Morecambe and Wise sketch with Andre Previn (Eric bashing away on the piano): all the right notes – but not necessarily in the right order."[22] Reviewing the film for History Extra, the official website of BBC History Magazine, Walvin noted that while the second half of the film centres on Dido Elizabeth Belle's involvement in the Zong case, in reality she was "nowhere to be found in the Zong affair".[22] In the film "Tom Wilkinson’s Mansfield finds his cold legal commercial heart softened, and edged towards abolition by the eyelash-fluttering efforts of his stunning great niece" and his "adjudication becomes, not a point of law, but the first bold assertion towards the end of slavery". Walvin points out that "he merely stated that there should be another hearing of the Zong case – this time with evidence not known at the earlier hearing". Walvin awarded the film one star for enjoyment and two for historical accuracy.


Dido Elizabeth Belle was never given her father's last name Lindsay, instead she took her mother's last name Belle. she was baptised in London age 6 but Sir John Lindsay was absent at the baptism. In the movie it was said that Dido's mother was dead so no one can took care of Dido, hence why Sir John Lindsay took Dido in to be taken care of by his maternal Uncle. In real life, Dido's mother Maria Belle was very much alive and given property by Sir John Lindsay in Pensacola, Florida. She also purchased her freedom, around the same period that Dido was born. Sir John Lindsay would fathered total of 5 illegitimate children from 5 different women. Dido Belle in June 1761, John Edward Lindsay in 9 February 1762, Ann in November 1766, Elizabeth in December 1766 ,John Lindsay in November 1767.

Real Dido would also be in charge of some chores normal for genteel woman but many doubt that Lady Elizabeth did any of these task. As remarked by Thomas Hutchinson from his visit to Kenwood.[23]

"She is a sort of Superintendent over the dairy, poultry yard, &c., which we visited, and she was called upon by my Lord every minute for this thing and that, and shewed the greatest attention to everything he said." "A Black came in after dinner and sat with the ladies, and after coffee, walked with the company in the gardens, one of the young ladies having her arm within the other. She had a very high cap, and her wool was much frizzled in her neck, but not enough to answer the large curls now in fashion. I knew her history before, but my Lord mentioned it again. Sir Lindsay, having taken her mother prisoner in a Spanish vessel, brought her to England, where she delivered of this girl, of which she was then with child, and which was taken care of by Lord M., and has been educated by his family. He calls her Dido, which I suppose is all the name she has. He knows he has been reproached for showing a fondness for her – I dare say not criminal"[24][25]

Because Dido was in charge of dairy and poultry yard, some experts said it was unlikely that she would have worn a fancy dress like her cousin Elizabeth would, as it would get spoiled by the dirt, Dido was also described wearing "very high cap" with frizzy hair. from Lord Mansfield's statement to Hutchinson, Lord Mansfield seemed to have disguised the fact that Dido was his own great niece from the Governor, hence created an implication that Hutchinson thought she was Mansfield’s mistress.

Dido Belle was also given an annual allowance of £30 10s. By contrast, Lady Elizabeth received around £100[26]


Dido's social position within the household was also not as ideal as presented in the movie. In the movie it was suggested that they were treated equal in the household, that she would attend family parties. but that's not really the case, although loved real Dido in real life was treated as a illegitimate and poor relation, as American visitor Hutchinson reported in 1779. That Dido was not allowed to dine with the family and guests (as depicted in the film) but joined the upper class ladies for coffee afterward in the drawing-room. Dido was also responsible for the dairy and poultry yards at Kenwood and run menial tasks for Lord Mansfield. Years later, another evidence to her awkward position was found from Mary Hamilton's diary in 1784, when she visited her cousin Lady Stormont (Elizabeth's stepmom) and the Murray family at Kenwood, although she mentioned Lady Elizabeth in her diaries, she never once mentioned Dido Belle, despite Mary's numerous visit to Kenwood House, in which she had described all member of the Murray family including Lady Elizabeth, Lady Elizabeth's 3 half sibling, 2 unmarried aunts, old Lord Mansfield, and even the Parish Priest. This might indicate that she never saw Dido despite her multiple visits to Kenwood and when she brushed upon the entire Murray clan at church. From Mary's diary, Dido seemed to not join the family or Lady Elizabeth to the church and she was further absent when Mary Hamilton was given tour of Kenwood House by Lady Elizabeth, it is possible that as Dido got older, Lord Mansfield further reinforced her position as illegitimate relations, Dido was also again absent when Lady Elizabeth went to royal ball with her stepmother.[27]


Dido Belle's real inheritance was nowhere near the amount suggested in the movie. Dido sadly wasn't left anything by her father Sir John Lindsay, her father the naval officer died in 1788 without legitimate heirs, bequeathing only £1000 to be shared by his "reputed children", another 2 illegitimate children named John and Elizabeth Lindsay (as noted in his will) and nothing for Dido.[28]in 1793, Lord Mansfield bequeathed Dido Belle £500 as an outright sum and a £100 annuity, while he left Lady Elizabeth Murray an astronomical sum of £10,000, even though her father was in line to inherit his uncle's title and entire wealth, so real Lady Elizabeth was far from penniless as suggested in the movie. Although left with comfortable sum of £500, Dido was unfortunately far from what 18th century Georgian society would consider an heiress, however her 2nd cousin Lady Elizabeth might be considered an heiress, from the news of the day she had about £17,000 upon marriage and in due times, she would also received her 2 aunt's wealth of £12,000 when they passed away, invested this will make Lady Elizabeth's personal wealth around £30,000 the same amount as the 5th Duke of Devonshire, (one of the richest men in the British kingdom) bestowed on his daughter Georgiana Howard, 6th Countess of Carlisle's dowry.[29][30]

In real life, Lady Elizabeth married first at age of 25 to George Finch Hatton, heir of the Earl of Winchilsea and Earl of Nottingham. George Finch Hatton was a wealthy aristocratic man with 2 vast estates Kirby Hall and Eastwell Park . Meanwhile Real Dido remained at Kenwood to care for Lord Mansfield and 8 years later after Lord Mansfield's death, at the age of 32 Dido Belle eventually married a servant called John Davinière. Dido and John would eventually resided at 14 Ranelagh Street in Pimlico, after they moved out, Martha, a dairymaid or a ladies’ maid from Kenwood and her husband a Kenwood gardener reside there, Martha Darnell was also a witness to Dido's marriage and apparently was a friend of the couple.[31]

Lady Elizabeth in real life wasn't at all neglected by her father, the 7th Viscount Stormont was known to be a righteous man much like his uncle, he was an ambassador to Austria and then Paris, where he met the young Archduchess Marie Antoinette in Austria and again when she became Queen of France in Paris, he quickly became the Queen's favorite due to his familiar face and kindness from her days in Austria. In 1774 he even presented his uncle Lord Mansfield to Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI when her uncle was staying in the Embassy. Whenever he was back in England, from letters found, he would regularly visit Lady Elizabeth and his 2 unmarried sister Lady Anne and Lady Margery Murray who by now all resided at Kenwood, and Lady Elizabeth would also make a round trip to visit her father and his stepmom at his main home at Wandsworth Hill and his London Home.[32]

Lady Elizabeth's relationship with her stepmom was also very close and warm the complete opposite to the movie, as Lady Elizabeth described her stepmom as "our dear Lady Stormont" in one of her letters. Her stepmom was a prominent aristocrat and courtier, her friends included the future King George IV, Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire, Her sister Duchess of Atholl, her cousin Mary Hamilton, and the richest woman in England the Duchess of Portland. In 1784 Lady Stormont even invited her stepdaughter Lady Elizabeth to the Prince's royal ball, she was personally invited by The Prince Regent to a royal ball at his palatial residence Carlton House.[33]


In the movie, Dido was potrayed to be a way better pianist than Lady Elizabeth, but in real life, Lady Elizabeth was actually known as an expert pianist in the family, she also liked to composed her own tune, this was attested by Mary Hamilton ( her stepmom's 1st cousin) and by none other than Jane Austen. Mary Hamilton wrote in her diary "went with Miss Eliza Murray ------ she is a remarkably nice & a good Musician for she not only plays in a Masterly manner but is a composer." "She lives with Lord Mansfield & was educated by the ye. late Lady Mansfield & two of Lord Stormont’s Sisters who also reside with Lord Mansfield. She is pleasing, good humour’d — well accomplished, & conducts herself with  that propriety which ought to distinguish a woman of fashion & good education."[34]


The painting presented in the movie was also inaccurate, in the real painting Dido was depicted wearing a turban with ostrich feather, with her hand pointing at her cheek.

Overall this movie is highly fictionalised, it took too many liberties and change a lot of the fundamental facts about Dido Elizabeth Belle, that this movie was so far removed from what real Dido Belle would've actually been through and experienced during her lifetime, therefore not remotely an accurate historical representation of Dido Elizabeth Belle's life by any means.[35]

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Inheritance

Inheritance

Inheritance is the practice of receiving private property, titles, debts, entitlements, privileges, rights, and obligations upon the death of an individual. The rules of inheritance differ among societies and have changed over time. Officially bequeathing private property and/or debts can be performed by a testator via will, as attested by a notary or by other lawful means.

John Lindsay (Royal Navy officer)

John Lindsay (Royal Navy officer)

Rear Admiral Sir John Lindsay, was a British naval officer of the 18th century, who achieved the rank of admiral late in his career. Joining the Navy during the Seven Years' War, he served off France, followed by service for several years as captain of a warship stationed in the West Indies. After war's end, he returned to Britain, serving as an MP for Aberdeen Burghs from 1767 to 1768. From August 1769 to March 1772 Lindsay was promoted to commodore and assigned as commander-in-chief of the East Indies Station. He resigned from the Navy for a period following the Battle of Ushant (1778) off the coast of France, during the American War of Independence. In 1784 he was assigned as commodore and commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean. In the last year of his life, he was promoted to rear admiral as an honorary position, as his failing health prevented him from taking a command.

Life annuity

Life annuity

A life annuity is an annuity, or series of payments at fixed intervals, paid while the purchaser is alive. The majority of life annuities are insurance products sold or issued by life insurance companies however substantial case law indicates that annuity products are not necessarily insurance products.

Georgiana Howard, Countess of Carlisle

Georgiana Howard, Countess of Carlisle

Georgiana Dorothy Howard, Countess of Carlisle was a British noblewoman. She was born after nine years of childless marriage between William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire, and his wife, Lady Georgiana Spencer, the political hostess and socialite. As such, she was a member of one of the country's grandest and richest families.

George Finch-Hatton, 10th Earl of Winchilsea

George Finch-Hatton, 10th Earl of Winchilsea

George William Finch-Hatton, 10th Earl of Winchilsea, 5th Earl of Nottingham was an English politician known for duelling with the then Prime Minister, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington.

Kirby Hall

Kirby Hall

Kirby Hall is an Elizabethan country house, located near Gretton, Northamptonshire, England. The nearest main town is Corby. One of the great Elizabethan houses of England, Kirby Hall was built for Sir Humphrey Stafford of Blatherwick, beginning in 1570. In 1575 the property was purchased by Sir Christopher Hatton of Holdenby, Lord Chancellor to Queen Elizabeth I. It is a leading and early example of the Elizabethan prodigy house. Construction on the building began in 1570, based on the designs in French architectural pattern books and expanded in the Classical style over the course of the following decades. The house is now in a semi-ruined state with many parts roof-less although the Great Hall and state rooms remain intact. The gardens, with their elaborate "cutwork" design, complete with statues and urns, have been recently restored.

Eastwell Park

Eastwell Park

Eastwell Park is a large area of parkland and a country estate in the civil parish of Eastwell, adjoining Ashford, Kent, in England. Over time, successive buildings have served as homes to Sir Thomas Moyle, the Earls of Winchilsea and Nottingham, Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, and others.

David Murray, 2nd Earl of Mansfield

David Murray, 2nd Earl of Mansfield

David Murray, 2nd Earl of Mansfield, 7th Viscount of Stormont,, known as the (7th) Viscount of Stormont from 1748 to 1793, was a British politician. He succeeded to both the Mansfield and Stormont lines of the Murray family, inheriting two titles and two fortunes.

George IV

George IV

George IV was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and King of Hanover from the death of his father, King George III, on 29 January 1820, until his own death ten years later. At the time of his accession to the throne, he was acting as Prince Regent, having done so since 5 February 1811, during his father's final mental illness.

Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire

Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire

Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, was an English aristocrat, socialite, political organiser, author, and activist. Born into the Spencer family, married into the Cavendish family, she was the first wife of William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire, and the mother of the 6th Duke of Devonshire.

Carlton House

Carlton House

Carlton House was a mansion in Westminster, best known as the town residence of King George IV. It faced the south side of Pall Mall, and its gardens abutted St James's Park in the St James's district of London. The location of the house, now replaced by Carlton House Terrace, was a main reason for the creation of John Nash's ceremonial route from St James's to Regent's Park via Regent Street, Portland Place and Park Square: Lower Regent Street and Waterloo Place were originally laid out to form the approach to its front entrance.

Jane Austen

Jane Austen

Jane Austen was an English novelist known primarily for her six major novels, which interpret, critique, and comment upon the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century. Austen's plots often explore the dependence of women on marriage in the pursuit of favourable social standing and economic security. Her works critique the novels of sensibility of the second half of the 18th century and are part of the transition to 19th-century literary realism. Her use of biting irony, along with her realism and social commentary, have earned her acclaim among critics and scholars.

Authorship

Some press coverage ahead of filming cited Asante as the sole writer of Belle as well as director.[36] Press releases that followed Fox Searchlight's acquisition of the film gave the final credit determined by the Writers Guild of America as "Written by Misan Sagay".[37][38] Sagay claimed she began writing her script in 2004, after seeing the painting of Dido Belle at Scone Palace. The project was initially developed by HBO. It then received funding from the British Film Institute in 2009, but Sagay left the project the following year due to serious ill-health.[39] When Asante was hired, Sagay believed that Asante would edit her script. Instead she learned that a script without her name on was being used.[39]

The subsequent arbitration process undertaken by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) determined that Sagay provided the bulk of content used in the script, so Sagay was awarded sole writing credit.[39] Cast members Penelope Wilton and Tom Wilkinson expressed "incredulity" at the accreditation decision.[40] Wilkinson said he "only saw and worked from a script written by Amma".[41] Information obtained by Entertainment Weekly showed Asante wrote 18 script drafts, before she directed the film.[41] Producers planned to submit Asante and Sagay as co-writers, but Sagay wanted a solo credit. Producer Damian Jones then asked the WGA to give Sagay a "story by" credit, with Asante getting a "screenplay by" credit, but this was rejected.[41] Asante appealed the WGA's decision, but lost.[40][42]

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HBO

HBO

Home Box Office (HBO) is an American premium television network, which is the flagship property of namesake parent subsidiary Home Box Office, Inc., itself a unit owned by Warner Bros. Discovery. The overall Home Box Office business unit is based at Warner Bros. Discovery's corporate headquarters inside 30 Hudson Yards in Manhattan's West Side district. Programming featured on the network consists primarily of theatrically released motion pictures and original television programs as well as made-for-cable movies, documentaries, occasional comedy and concert specials, and periodic interstitial programs.

British Film Institute

British Film Institute

The British Film Institute (BFI) is a film and television charitable organisation which promotes and preserves film-making and television in the United Kingdom. The BFI uses funds provided by the National Lottery to encourage film production, distribution, and education. It is sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and partially funded under the British Film Institute Act 1949.

Penelope Wilton

Penelope Wilton

Dame Penelope Alice Wilton, formerly styled Penelope, Lady Holm, is an English actress.

Tom Wilkinson

Tom Wilkinson

Thomas Geoffrey Wilkinson is a British actor of film, television, and stage. He has received various accolades throughout his career, including a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe, a Primetime Emmy Award and nominations for two Academy Awards.

Entertainment Weekly

Entertainment Weekly

Entertainment Weekly is an American digital-only entertainment magazine based in New York City, published by Dotdash Meredith, that covers film, television, music, Broadway theatre, books, and popular culture. The magazine debuted on February 16, 1990, in New York City.

Damian Jones (producer)

Damian Jones (producer)

Damian Jones is a British independent film producer.

Release

In July 2013, it was announced that Fox Searchlight Pictures had acquired distribution rights for the film in the UK and USA.[43] Belle premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival on 8 September 2013.[44][45] The film was released on 2 May 2014 in the United States, 9 May in Canada and 13 June 2014 in the United Kingdom.[46]

Reception

The film received positive reviews from critics. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a "Certified Fresh" score of 84% based on reviews from 150 critics, with an average rating of 6.99/10. The site's consensus states: "It boasts all the surface beauty that fans of period pictures have come to expect, but Belle also benefits from its stirring performances and subtle social consciousness."[47] Critic Mark Kermode named it his fourth-favourite film of 2014.[48]

Accolades

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients and nominees Result
African-American Film Critics Association[49] 8 December 2014 Best Actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw Won
Best Film Belle Nominated
Black Reel Awards[50][51] 19 February 2015 Best Actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw Won
Best Director Amma Asante Nominated
Best Ensemble Toby Whale Nominated
Best Film Belle Nominated
Best Screenplay Misan Sagay Nominated
British Independent Film Awards[52][53] 7 December 2014 Best Actress in a British Independent Film Gugu Mbatha-Raw Won
Best Newcomer Gugu Mbatha-Raw Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association[54] 15 December 2014 Most Promising Performer Gugu Mbatha-Raw Nominated
Empire Awards[55] 29 March 2015 Best Female Newcomer Gugu Mbatha-Raw Nominated
London Film Critics' Circle[56] 18 January 2015 British Actress of the Year Gugu Mbatha-Raw Nominated
Miami International Film Festival[57] 15 March 2014 SIGNIS Award Belle Won
NAACP Image Award[58][59] 6 February 2015 Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Gugu Mbatha-Raw Nominated
Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture Amma Asante Nominated
Outstanding Independent Motion Picture Belle Won
Outstanding Motion Picture Belle Nominated
Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture Misan Sagay Won
Palm Springs International Film Festival[60][61] 3–13 January 2014 Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature Belle Nominated
Directors to Watch Amma Asante Won
Satellite Award[62] 15 February 2015 Best Actress in a Motion Picture Gugu Mbatha-Raw Nominated
Best Costume Design Anushia Nieradzik Nominated
Women Film Critics Circle[63][64] 16 December 2014 Best Female Images in a Movie Belle Nominated
Best Movie by a Woman Amma Asante Nominated
Best Woman Storyteller Misan Sagay Nominated
Karen Morley Award Belle Won

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African-American Film Critics Association

African-American Film Critics Association

The African-American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) is the world's largest group of Black film critics that gives various annual awards for excellence in film and television. It was founded in 2003 in New York City.

Black Reel Awards

Black Reel Awards

The Black Reel Awards, or BRAs, is an annual American awards ceremony hosted by the Foundation for the Augmentation of African-Americans in Film (FAAAF) to recognize excellence of African Americans, as well as the cinematic achievements of the African diaspora, in the global film industry, as assessed by the foundation’s voting membership. The various category winners are awarded a copy of a statuette, officially called the Black Reel Award. The awards, first presented in 2000 in Washington, DC, are overseen by FAAAF.

Black Reel Awards of 2015

Black Reel Awards of 2015

The 2015 Black Reel Awards, which annually recognize and celebrate the achievements of black people in feature, independent and television films, were announced on Thursday, February 19, 2015. Dear White People and Selma lead all films with ten nominations apiece.

Black Reel Award for Best Actress

Black Reel Award for Best Actress

This article lists the winners and nominees for the Black Reel Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture. Quvenzhané Wallis is currently the youngest winner in this category. Academy Award-nominated or winning performances also honored with nominations or wins at the Black Reel Awards include Quvenzhané Wallis, Viola Davis, Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), Sophie Okonedo and Halle Berry.

Black Reel Award for Best Director

Black Reel Award for Best Director

This page lists the winners and nominees for the Black Reel Award for Best Director. Lee Daniels and Steve McQueen are the only directors nominated for Academy Awards. Daniels earned a nomination for Precious and McQueen for 12 Years a Slave.

British Independent Film Awards

British Independent Film Awards

The British Independent Film Awards (BIFA) is an organisation that celebrates, supports and promotes British independent cinema and filmmaking talent in United Kingdom. Nominations for the annual awards ceremony are announced in early November, with the ceremony itself taking place in early December.

British Independent Film Awards 2014

British Independent Film Awards 2014

The 17th British Independent Film Awards were held on 7 December 2014 in London. The awards honoured the best British independent films of 2014.

BIFA Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a British Independent Film

BIFA Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a British Independent Film

The British Independent Film Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a British Independent Film is an annual award given by the British Independent Film Awards (BIFA) to recognize the best leading performance by an actress in a British independent film. The award was first presented in the 1998 ceremony with Kathy Burke being the first recipient of the award for her performance as Valerie in Nil by Mouth.

Chicago Film Critics Association

Chicago Film Critics Association

The Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA) is an association of professional film critics, who work in print, broadcast and online media, based in Chicago, Illinois, United States. The organization was founded in 1990 by film critics Sharon LeMaire and Sue Kiner, following the success of the first Chicago Film Critics Awards given out in 1988. The association comprises 60 members.

Chicago Film Critics Association Awards 2014

Chicago Film Critics Association Awards 2014

The 27th Chicago Film Critics Association Awards were announced on December 15, 2014. The awards honor the best in film for 2014. The first round ballots were due on December 11, 2014 and the nominations were announced on December 12. Birdman received the most nominations (9), followed by The Grand Budapest Hotel (8) and Boyhood (7).

20th Empire Awards

20th Empire Awards

The 20th Empire Awards ceremony, presented by the British film magazine Empire, honored the best films of 2014 and took place on 29 March 2015 at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, England. During the ceremony, Empire presented Empire Awards in 12 categories as well as three honorary awards. Irish actor James Nesbitt hosted the show for the second consecutive year. The awards were sponsored by Jameson Irish Whiskey for the seventh consecutive year.

Empire Award for Best Female Newcomer

Empire Award for Best Female Newcomer

The Empire Award for Best Female Newcomer is an Empire Award presented annually by the British film magazine Empire to honour an actress who has delivered a breakthrough performance while working within the film industry. The Empire Award for Best Female Newcomer is one of two ongoing awards which were first introduced at the 17th Empire Awards ceremony in 2012 with Felicity Jones receiving the award for her role in Like Crazy. Dafne Keen is the most recent winner in this category for her role in Logan. Winners are voted by the readers of Empire magazine.

Source: "Belle (2013 film)", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, January 31st), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belle_(2013_film).

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References
  1. ^ "BELLE (PG)". 20th Century Fox. British Board of Film Classification. 25 March 2014. Retrieved 27 March 2014.
  2. ^ "Belle (2014)". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  3. ^ Mitchell, Wendy (2 November 2012). "Belle | Features | Screen". Screendaily.com. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  4. ^ Kemp, Stuart (2 November 2012). "Amma Asante Unveils First Glimpse of 'Belle'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  5. ^ "Tom Felton Rings The Belle". Empire. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  6. ^ "Dido and Elizabeth Portrait". English Heritage. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  7. ^ Fake or Fortune?, Season 7, Episode 4.
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