Story

Set in the late 18th century,Belle is a romantic drama based on the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). Belle was the illegitimate daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral and a black slave. She was the first mixed-race woman to be raised by an aristocrat, making her a controversial figure in history. Although Belle’s upbringing gave her many privileges, her race prevented her from fully participating in society.

In the movie, Belle is in the care of her great uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson). She falls for an idealistic and romantic young man, John Davinier (Sam Reid), who is the son of a vicar. Together they strive to change the way that Lord Mansfield, as Lord Chief Justice, manages the issue of slavery in England. 

Themes

Relationships and love; family responsibility; social standing and hierarchy; racial prejudice and discrimination

Violence

Belle has limited violence. For example:

  • James Ashford holds Belle by the arm against her will, causing her pain and frightening her.
  • Belle is verbally abused because of her race.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5

Nothing of concern 

From 5-8

Children in this age group might be upset by the death of Belle’s parents. Belle’s mother dies when she is a child, and her father collects her from a relative’s house to take her to a ‘better life’ with her uncle. When Belle grows up, she receives a letter saying that her father has died. 

From 8-13

Nothing of concern 

Over 13

Nothing of concern 

Sexual references

None of concern 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

Belle shows some use of substances. For example, characters drink wine and smoke in social situations. 

Nudity and sexual activity

Belle has limited sexual activity. One example is when Belle and John embrace and kiss briefly. 

Product placement

None of concern 

Coarse language

Belle includes some coarse language, including when the word ‘negro’ is used as an insult. 

Ideas to discuss with your children

Belle is a romantic drama that sheds light on a time in history when women had little independence and choice. They were often pushed to find suitable husbands who would take care of them financially. Belle’s trials and tribulations demonstrate that marrying for love is of the utmost importance when it comes to happiness and living a contented life.

The movie also presents a grim view of racial stereotyping and bigotry and the devastating consequences it has on its victims.

This movie lacks interest for children under 10 years, and its themes make it more suitable for teenagers. It raises several points that you could talk about with teenagers, including:

  • racism and its consequences for victims and perpetrators
  • inheritance and issues relating to property
  • arguments for and against arranged marriage.