I love a good period drama, but I especially love a good period drama that actually teaches me about something that occurred in history that until now, I never knew about. This is the case with Belle. It's not just a story of a mulatto woman being raised among the lords and ladies, but also the story of the Zong, a slave ship on which traumatic circumstances caused it to be a crucial step in abolishing the slave trade.
On the Zong, the traders claim to have ran out of water, a huge problem for ships in the 1700s. They had a LONG way to go. They threw the slaves overboard, chained to one another, to drown, and wrote it off as "lost cargo" and a "must in order to save the lives of seamen" aka white men.
Once back on English soil, they tried to claim insurance money for the dead slaves.
And this "lack of water" excuse passed muster in the low courts, but when it made it to the high courts, it was another story. Some facts came to light...and in order not to spoil the movie for those of you who haven't seen it, that's all I'm going to say on that. However, Belle's caregiver/uncle is the judge overseeing this case.
Behind his back, Belle is trying to do whatever she can to ensure the outcome does not go in the traders' favor. Meanwhile, a wealthy man is trying to win her hand and she believes it's her only chance to marry, because despite her wealth, most English gentlemen won't marry a woman of color. But can she act as though her Negro mother is a shameful secret? Can she shun her heritage?
It's very interesting to see what happens. I was holding my breath and at one point--the end--actually shed tears of happiness. I became quite engrossed in this tale. It's true, by the way. It's based on a real woman. Also cool to watch was how the family changed from being, "But she's a Negro! You failed to mention that. We can't raise her in this house" to "She's one of us" despite the fact they wouldn't let her eat at their dinner table.
That brings me to some things that confused me and thus knock off a bike. If they love her so much, if they accept her as they seem to, why is she eating alone still? If her father loved her mother as much as he claimed to, why was she living in the slums? And why in the world was Belle so rude and nasty to the clergyman's son upon first meeting him?
But an inspiring movie. Belle was truly a strong woman who stood up for herself, her heart, and her beliefs.
I highly recommend this one. I rented this on Amazon.