Dido Elizabeth Belle
The fact that alternative history makes its way into the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Mbatha-Raw), a mixed-race orphan entrusted to the care of her uncle, the Earl of Mansfield, in the 1760s is not a drawback in itself: her presence in Mansfield’s household when he was Lord Chief Justice may indeed have influenced his rulings on cases involving slavery. Here however, these interpretative liberties feel incongruous as cast and screenplay manoeuver around a liberation/feminist subtext within an über-correct Austinian period drama.
Dido Elizabeth Belle | Directed by Amma Asante (UK 2013) with Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson, Sarah Gadon. Starts August 14
Originally published in issue #129, July/August 2014.