Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Belle: A True Story that Illuminates Truth

As much as I love movies, I don't write about them very often. Usually, I watch a movie, give it a thumbs-up or down, ponder it for a short while, then go on my way.

But... Every now and then, I watch a movie that sticks with me. That's when I HAVE to tell everybody who cares to listen about it.

"Belle" was that kind of movie for me.

Set in 18th Century England, "Belle" shares the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, a biracial girl born to a slave woman of African descent and a Caucasian Royal Navy Captain. Wanting a better life for his daughter, the Captain delivers young Dido to the mansion of her aristocratic great uncle, Lord Mansfield, who serves as Lord Chief Justice.

Dido must navigate the paradoxes of her life. Her mixed race vs. her family's race. Her legacy of slavery vs. her present wealth. Her social limitations as a Black woman vs. her social privileges as a member of the English aristocracy.

She is a woman with a weighty inheritance, and yet she is not allowed to dine with her family when there are visitors in the home.

I loved this movie. It moved me for several reasons, and I'll share a few here.

Room must be made at the table of Hollywood

Mbatha-Raw and Director Amma Asante

Before I saw "Belle", I knew the main character was played by British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw. I'd read a couple articles about her and was already a fan. However, I didn't know that the person who'd brought this beautiful true story to life was screenwriter and director Amma Asante, a British woman of African descent.

The world needs more stories like Asante's "Belle". 

Hollywood needs to make more room at its table.

Race is still a vital and hot topic

Dido navigates her world with pain and angst. Regardless of her social standing, she can never forget that she is a woman of color. And those around her won't let her forget either. 

However, when others around her see her color, refuse to shun her for it, and even embrace her - and her color - the story is most beautiful. 

I've often heard people say, "I don't see color. I think we should all be colorblind." Now, I agree that once a relationship is formed, it is very easy to forget the race of a friend. I see my friend Jenny at church, and the last thing I'm thinking is, "Oh, there's Jenny, my White friend."

However, I do see race all day long. At the grocery store. At the library. Watching the news. And this is not a bad thing. It's okay for us to see color. It's okay for us to see our differences. 

When we mistreat or disregard one another because of those difference, then we cause problems.

God is not colorblind. He sees color. He loves color. That's why he created it.

Each of us can make a difference

Dido's story echoes the Biblical story of Esther. She was born in her time and brought to live with her family - "for such a time as this". She had a purpose that only she could fulfill. She used her influence to shape her family, her society and even history. She used her position to effect change against the cruel system of slavery England. 

Isn't that why we're all here? To effect change in our generation. To influence others' towards righteousness and love. To leave this world knowing that we helped make it a better place.

Even if it's for only one person.