Thursday, May 01, 2014

Dido Belle, the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of a Royal Navy officer, is brought to England by her father and left in the care of his uncle, Lord Mansfield, the Lord Chief Justice, at his estate of Kenwood House. Though the social mores of the time make her an outsider, Dido is raised by Mansfield as an aristocrat alongside her cousin Elizabeth. Dido's burgeoning relationship with a young lawyer, John Davinier, meets with the disapproval of Mansfield who considers the match beneath her. At the same time Mansfield is deliberating on a slavery case that will advance the cause of the Abolitionists.

Directed by Amma Asante, written by Misan Sagay, and produced by Damian Jones, Belle stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson, Miranda Richardson, Penelope Wilton, Matthew Goode, Emily Watson, Sam Reid, Sarah Gadon, Tom Felton, and James Norton.

Inspired by the 1779 painting of Dido Elizabeth Belle beside her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray, this period drama is one for fans of Downtown Abbey and Jane Austen. Commissioned by William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, then Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, the portrait of his two nieces hung in England's Kenwood House, until 1922.

Dido Elizabeth Belle (left) with her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray

Kenwood House

Very little is known about Dido Belle's life in the Mansfield home. The film centers on Dido's relationship with an aspiring young lawyer and is set at a time of legal significance as the potential ramifications of the Zong massacre become apparent. Lord Mansfield's ruling on this infamous case, in England's Court of King's Bench, became an important step in bringing an end to slavery in England.

Belle premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, 2013 and is due for release in the United States on May 2, 2014 and in the United Kingdom on June 13, 2014.

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  1. Leonard! Would you know if mapapabalabas sya dito? I've seen that trailer early last year pa--no, I'm not kidding. I've always wanted to watch it kasi.

    1. Probably. But wala pa naman akong natatanggap na PR :)

    2. Sana nga! I would love to see Penelope Wilton in a film again! I loved her as Isobel Crawley in Downton Abbey. Try watching Downton Abbey. I swear, you'll be hooked!