Belle London Premiere

BFI Southbank
June 5th, 2014
Attended by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson, Sam Reid, Sarah Gadon, Miranda Richardson, Tom Felton, James Norton & Amma Asante

by Laura Patricia Jones

Belle, the untold true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, premiered at BFI Southbank in a glittering and dapper fashion. The cast all looked stunning and were in high spirits to chat about the latest period drama to grace our screens. But this is not just any period drama – this is no Jane Austen.

For the first time ever, a mixed race woman is cast front and centre in a period drama not as a slave, but in a stunning lead role, fans and petticoats included. This is a powerful story that director Amma Asante envisaged from a postcard of Dido’s portrait, with her cousin Elizabeth showing a woman of colour in a social status that was unheard of at the time. This is not a star crossed love story but very much more of a feminist movement in film through which it’s questioning why is it that girls who look the same, with the same backgrounds, age and appearance get to play all the parts? Move over Knightley – it’s time for something new.

Political undertones aside, it is clear that the cast had a lot of fun making the film, and one of the main things to gauge from them is the engaging quality of the writing. A lot of films use lavish settings and flamboyant characters to cover up a weak script, but in this instance this is not the case. In particular, Miranda Richardson as Lady Ashford has some very hard lines to deliver which in contemporary culture are amusing, but she very much represents a lady of the time who would utter such vulgarities towards a woman of colour in that social setting. Tom Felton is once again cast as the bad guy, like Draco Malfoy in a wig, I half expect him to shout ‘filthy mudblood’ at any given moment. However, we are assured by his colleagues for all the diehard Harry Potter fans out there, that he is every inch the nice guy!

It’s clear that that this talented dream team of bright eyed names are very proud of their creation – Please visit our YouTube channel to watch what they had to say on the Red Carpet.  Here’s our photo gallery to keep you busy in the meantime:

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