Australian Council on Children and the Media

Belle

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Short takes

Not recommended under 10, PG to 12 (Themes; Lack of interest for younger children)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Belle
  • a review of Belle completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 12 May 2014.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not recommended due to themes and lack of interest
Children aged 10 to 12 Parental guidance recommended due to themes
Children 12 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Belle
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

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

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

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

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is limited violence in the film, including:

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

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Nothing of concern apart from the violent scenes described above

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Belle’s mother dies when she is a child and her father collects her from a relative’s house to take her to lead a ‘better life’ with her uncle. When Belle grows up, she receives a letter telling her that her father has died.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Nothing further of concern

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

There is limited sexual activity, including:

  • Belle and John embrace and kiss briefly.

Use of substances

Social drinking of wine and some smoking

Coarse language

The word “negro” is used as an insult.

In a nutshell

Belle is a romantic drama that sheds light on a time in history when women were given very little independence and choice, often being pushed to find suitable husbands who would take care of them financially. The film also presents a grim look at racial stereotyping and bigotry and the devastating consequences it may have upon people who are targeted. Belle’s trials and tribulations suggest that marrying for love is of the utmost importance when it comes to happiness and living a contented life.

The story lacks interest for children under 10 and the film’s themes make it is more suitable for teens. It raises a number of discussion points for parents and teenagers, including:

  • The issue of racism, and the consequences for both victims and perpetrators of it.
  • Inheritance and issues relating to property.
  • The arguments for and against arranged marriage.

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