Sunday, July 06, 2014


Belle Movie Poster

Last week we went to see an entertaining movie named Belle. It is costume drama, set in eighteenth century Britain, a time when the slave trade still flourished. Belle is a lovely mixed-race young woman, the daughter of a British naval officer and a woman of colour who may have been a slave. After the mother's death the child is taken to live with wealthy and influential grandparents who struggle with the social stigma of a "mulatto" grandchildren. Still, they raise her with love despite some of the social restrictions to which they adhere. The grandfather is the chief justice of England and is called upon to rule on a case involving a slave ship.

If this sounds a bit far-fetched, it is based on true. We know nothing about Belle's personal life from historical records but her existence and the manner in which she was raised are documented. It was unusual for the time, and the film does a good job of imagining what her life might be like, including the prospects for marriage.

What the story ignores altogether is that the movement to abolish slavery in Britain was passionately carried forward by Christians, including William Wilberforce. If anything the film minimizes the role of religion in favour of the law in regard to the end of slavery. Just the same, it is well worth seeing.

Have any of you heard of Belle, or seen it? Do you know much about the history of slavery in Britain? Do a search on William Wilberforce. You will be inspired.


Judy Mcknight said...

Yes, I went to see "Belle" on Friday evening - such a situation had to be rare, and awkward, to say the least, for the peers involved - but much more so, and confusing, for the mulatto girl raised in a semi-free, cultured, "loving" household. Also saw the Wilberforce story, "Amazing Grace" years ago ... so, what did you think of the chief justice's breakfast hat, David????

Judy Mcknight said...

Oh, and all of the wigs, on all of the men, were pretty bad!

kb said...

I will watch for "Belle."

I love that period in British history. The seeds of reform movements on the part of people with much forbearance.

I saw "Amazing Grace" a few years ago as well. What a great cast- -Benedict Cumberbatch as William Pitt,Albert Finney as John Newton etc.