Upcoming Period Drama: [Dido Elizabeth] Belle (2014)

Some of you may have seen this painting before of a dark-skinned young woman wearing a turban with a fair-skinned brunette in a garden. Both seem to be very cheery and close. You may have wondered why they were together and what their relationship was.

English: Portrait of Dido Elizabeth Belle (176...

English: Portrait of Dido Elizabeth Belle (1761-1804) and her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray (1760-1825), great nieces of Lord Mansfield, in the grounds of Lord Mansfield’s house, Kenwood, in Hampstead, North London. Français : Portrait des deux cousines Dido Elizabeth Belle et Elizabeth Murray, petites nièces de Lord Mansfield, qui est à l’origine de l’interdition de l’esclavage sur le sol anglais. Le tableau se trouve à Scone Palace, Perthshire, Ecosse. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It turns out that the young woman on the left is Dido Elizabeth Belle, a mixed-race aristocrat living in England in the 18th Century. Yet all this time, we knew so little about her! The woman on the right is her cousin, Lady Elizabeth Murray, to whom she acted as a companion.

There is a new movie in the works called Belle (2013), which will star English actress, Gugu Mbatha Raw, who is also of mixed-heritage (English on her mother’s side, African on her father’s), as Dido. There are also lots of well-known actors, as you can see from this list:

The Cast

  • Dido Belle – Gugu Mbatha Raw
  • Lady Elizabeth Murray – Sarah Gadon (aka Ruby Ogden from Murdoch Mysteries)
  • William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield – Tom Wilkinson
  • Lady Mansfield – Emma Watson
  • Lady Mary Murray – Penelope Wilton (aka Isobel Crawley from Downton Abbey)
  • Captain Sir John Lindsay – Matthew Goode
  • John Davinier – Sam Reid
  • Lady Ashford – Miranda Richardson (aka most ‘Queens’ in films)
  • James Ashford – Tom Felton (aka Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter)
  • Oliver Ashford – James Norton

As I was watching this trailer, I kept thinking how lonely it must have been for her to be the only mixed child growing up (or so it seems for now) in 18th Century England. It’s hard enough dealing with mixed identity today.

Photos from the film

Release Dates

The movie will be shown at the TIFF in September 2013. It will be released on:

USA: Friday, 2 May 2014 – select theatres in the US (other dates in May for other cities)

CANADA:

Friday, 9 May 2014 – Toronto

Friday, 16 May 2014 – Montreal, Vancouver* (advanced screening on Wed, 14 May at 7PM at Fifth Avenue Cinemas)

Friday, 23 May 2014 – Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Ottawa, Victoria, Winnipeg

UK: Friday, 13 June 2014

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