Exquisite First Trailer For Amma Asante’s BELLE Arrives
Check out the official trailer for Amma Asante’s BELLE starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sam Reid, Tom Wilkinson, Emily Watson, Tom Felton, Miranda Richardson and Matthew Goode.
Scheduled for a May 2014 release, the film was shown at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival to positive reviews.
- Justin Chang (Variety): “The pleasures of Jane Austen and the horrors of the British slave trade make a surprisingly elegant fit in Amma Asante’s handsome period piece.”
- John Oursler (Sound on Sight): “Amma Asante’s Belle, a new entrant in the genre, strikes all the right notes.”
- John DeFore (The Hollywood Reporter): “Moviegoers should respond well when Fox Searchlight brings it to theaters next spring.”
I can’t wait to see this. Being a fan of period-piece dramas, BELLE looks to be the perfect blend of courage, love and history.
BELLE is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral. Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson), Belle’s lineage affords her certain privileges, yet the color of her skin prevents her from fully participating in the traditions of her social standing.
Left to wonder if she will ever find love, Belle falls for an idealistic young vicar’s son bent on change who, with her help, shapes Lord Mansfield’s role as Lord Chief Justice to end slavery in 18th century England.
The film is written by Misan Sagay (THE SECRET LAUGHTER OF WOMEN) and produced by Damian Jones (THE IRON LADY).
Director Amma Asante adored the idea of bringing a revealing new twist to the sense and sensibilities of a romantic period film – adding to the mix of attraction, marital maneuvering, class, and gender a series of still provocative questions about race, bias and justice.
“I’ve never seen a film about the Jane Austen elements we know so well – the marriage market, the lives of girls growing up into society ladies, the romantic longing – combined with a story about the end of slavery,” says Asante.
The love story in BELLE brings two people together against all odds and changes Dido Belle’s whole outlook on the world. “Dido transforms from a girl who says, ‘As you wish, sir,’ to a woman who says, ‘As I wish – this is what I need, this is what is important to me,’” says Asante.
“She does so not because she is a privileged young woman who wants more, but because she is a woman saying, ‘I want equality in my household and in the world.’”
Amma Asante went in search of an unusual actress – someone who could embody the dual worlds Dido must navigate while trying to understand her own heart.
After a long search, Asante and producer Damian Jones saw exactly what they were seeking in British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who has been seen on Broadway in Hamlet with Jude Law and on the television series “Touch” with Kiefer Sutherland.
“The power of Gugu, for me, is that she is able to reach inside the character and allow anyone to understand Dido’s unique experience,” says the director. “What she wants is equality. It’s not that nothing is good enough for her, it’s that she wants to be seen as equal to Elizabeth and the other ladies of her status and class at the time. Gugu puts that across fantastically. I knew she would be a good comrade in the process of recreating this 18th century black heroine.”
Throughout portraying Dido Belle, Mbatha-Raw was grateful to collaborate so intimately with Asante. “Amma is just a force of nature. She really is,” summarizes the actress. “She knew this character so deeply and she was so invested in this story. All the relationships in the story were personal to her. It was also wonderful to work with a female director. It brings a very different kind of energy to the set – and obviously, it’s still a rarity.”
Executive producers are Steve Christian (MISS POTTER), Julie Goldstein (LOOPER), Ivan Dunleavy (DOM HEMINGWAY), Steve Norris (ME AND ORSON WELLES), Phil Hunt (TRISHNA), Compton Ross (BRINGING UP BOBBY) and Christopher Collins with Jane Robertson and Robert Norris as co-producers.
The filmmaking team includes Director of Photography Ben Smithard BSC (MY WEEK WITH MARILYN); production designer Simon Bowles (HYDE PARK ON THE HUDSON); costume designer Anushia Nieradzik (HUNGER); music by Oscar® nominee Rachel Portman (DUCHESS), editors Pia Di Ciaula (TYRANNOSAUR) and Victoria Boydell (THE AWAKENING) and make-up and hair designer Marese Langan (THE IRON LADY).