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Screening of Belle 2013

Screening of Belle 2013

Attended the Colorado Greenwood Village Theater – Showtime 7:30pm

The line began forming at around 5:15. As we were a group of eleven, 2 arrived early and marked the spot – holding it for the rest of us who would show.
The two hour wait wasn’t that bad. I talked to various ones there to get a feel for why they were there? I mean, the few black viewers, mixed couples and their daughters – it was obvious. But we were outnumbered by white and I wanted to hear from them what made them attend this showing – besides having screening passes – ie; free!
The few close by I spoke with stated they were there because they wanted to know this truth about history. They voiced displeasure that this hadn’t been taught in school – and verbalized a resentment that history was edited by those who felt the majority would not care, nor care to know – about the contributions made in society by non-whites. Thus, they were there to see, learn and view this world in England that once held in it’s history a woman like Dido Elizabeth Belle. A black woman of mixed parentage. An English father and an African slave mother.
Front of Line…
Of course there were those there just for the movie because it was a free screening, and yes – some to critique it. In fact I heard a man explaining to his parents who were older, that the only factual part of the movie was the back story of the Zong case. (See links below for references) He made it a point of explaining that the story surrounding Dido Elizabeth Belle – was in fact fiction because if one did research on her, there was nothing to be found on her – or where or how her life went.
Can I be brutally honest and say that as I listened to him, watched his body language and manner – it was clear that he had no intention of buying what might have been according to this writers interpretation – (Misan Sagay) – and well – yeah, I resented him for that. Why? Because as I am a writer myself – we spend a great deal of time imagining what might have been based on the circumstances of an event surrounding a character and the outcome of a possible situation. I felt, watching him explain this to his parents, he did not want to grant Dido Elizabeth Belle ANY of the cudos of intellect – logic – passion or input in the decision that lost the insurance claimants the case to be paid for murdering hundreds of human beings. He wanted them to know not to put any emotional value one might feel watching her struggle. I had to look away from that man – because I could feel why he was there – to put down – not give the benefit of the doubt to build up and learn of what may have been her struggle.
Where my group stood
As you can imagine, I pulled all of my senses away from him and brought them back to the reason I was there. To learn what I might from the world of Dido Elizabeth Belle – who was played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw and oh my what a job she did. I was thoroughly drawn into feeling that she was in fact, truly this woman who had walked the halls of Kentwood House in Hampstead, England – not far from London. As I had done research on her years and years ago and recently – I feel that an excellent job was done in stitching together what might been in the middle places where there isn’t much on her activities.
In any case, the atmosphere was set to enjoy this movie no matter what I may have conjured from the body language and words of those here and there. As we waited in line – sipping wine – I had Merlot – others had various other drinks, with some people enjoying their pizzas – McDonalds or in our case, Seafood gumbo, and others ribs, and sandwiches – we laughed, talked and enjoyed the wait. Finally the line started to move and we were ready to get in our seats.
Outside lined up..
In we went, moving up somewhat high, and in the center aisle to our rocker, recliner seats. Happily, with most movie screenings – no up and coming previews of other movies. Fifteen minutes after sitting and all seats were taken, the lights went down and the movie began.
Date – 1769 – there was no big messing around it started out with Capt. Sir John Lindsay searching out the location of where his daughter was being held – with flashes of the woman who cared for her – dressing her. He came in to find her and the look he gave his daughter was priceless – there was a bit of surprise as well pride in his eyes – because she was indeed lovely. I don’t know if they did it on purpose but the match up of these two actors were stunning – she could have truly been his daughter. -( Young Dido – played by Lauren Julien-Box )-. He coaxed her to him, speaking with tender kindness and took her off with him. I loved the scene of them walking along the docks through numbers of ruffians and sailors. He glanced down at his beautiful daughter and the way those around them were eyeing her and his father instincts kicked in as he immediately picked her up protectively into her arms. I couldn’t help but smile. His coachmen and others gave him odd looks as well, because she was after all, dark – mixed a mulatto.
Each scene went immediately into the next, I felt a bit too quickly at first, but they wanted to get on with the story. I simply loved the dialog between Sir John Lindsay and his uncle and aunt when her brought Dido to them. They were so shocked that she was black and tore into him for not letting them know that. But he stood strong holding his daughter’s hand as he explained that regardless of her color she was his and he was not ashamed of her. His parting scene when he spoke to her to help her understand why he must leave her there was so tender and touching as he let her know, that he loved her as he had loved her mother. He was even teary eyed – well played Matthew Goode -( Capt. Sir John Lindsay ).
Aaaaaah – yeah – nice scene.
And then movie went on from there with the two young girls playing and growing rapidly as they passed the tree. I’m not going to give detail by detail but there were many great scenes and an interesting triangle between Dido, Sir Ashford played by James Norton and John Davinier played by Sam Reid. The irony was that Lord Mansfield played by Tom Wilkinson didn’t think they’d find a husband of suitable match for Belle – and she ended up with two men after her. Whereas their other white niece could not get one suitor, mainly because she had no dowry. So many other little thoughtful scenes and dislog happened, certainly things to make you go hmmm. Well, no one black went hmmm, because we get it, expect it – but those of the white audience for once got to see and perhaps I dare say feel what it must have been like to be black in a society that was determined to mark you as non-worthy without privilege or rights.
The romantic expect of the movie – growing between Dido Belle and John Davinier was well paced, and a pleasure to watch.
The dignity of Belle – seeing a black woman act like a lady – demand that a man be proper and a gentlemen towards her was breath-taking for me. It needs to come BACK – I don’t care what century or time period we are in. Men no longer feel the need to be men and respectful because women have given that strength and aspect of beauty and femininity up. These two grew attached, and fell in love with their intellect as well being attracted to each other. It was subtle, gentle, real and a wonder to behold and see on the big screen. By the time it came out – John Davinier was convincingly IN LOVE with her. It was bold, clear, passionate and vibrant and I loved every moment of it.
The Zong case – with all it’s controversial ins and out of that time was the perfect back drop for this movie and I loved that it was something that was really happening at that time period. I feel that Amma Asante and Misan Sagay did an incredible job with this film. There is so much more I could say, but I will end it with saying this… GO and see this movie! Support it! If it should go straight to DVD – buy them like mad, don’t just rent it – buy it! Watch it again and again – because I can tell you right now, I will – oh boy will I!
Amazon rates with 5 stars as the highest – oh yeah – FIVE stars!
Imdb rates up to 10 stars – oh yeah – I’ll certainly give it TEN stars!
It will go down as my personal all time favorite movie this year – no doubt about it!
The Zong Case:
Mercedes Keyes
Home of Quality Interracial Literature
@mercyk – Twitter

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