Belle

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Belle is a 2013 British film directed by Amma Asante. The film is inspired by the 1779 painting of Dido Elizabeth Belle with her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray. Commissioned by William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, then Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, the portrait is of his two nieces. The film centers on Dido’s relationship with an aspiring young lawyer.  Lord Mansfield’s ruling on a slavery-related legal case, in England’s Court of King’s Bench, became an important step in bringing an end to slavery in England.

This movie was about biracial aristocracy. As a person of mixed race in a world that is still so black and white, the identity and position of Belle was fascinating to me. Although this woman was born into the aristocracy in the 1700s, I could still relate to her as a woman living between two worlds. The director said that after seeing the portrait of Dido and her white cousin that it was the first European painting she saw from that period where black and white were portrayed as equals.

The way that Belle carried herself, with such grace, was an inspiration. Don’t act how you are treated, act higher than that. Show others the way to act. Always be a lady.

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