Belle script
Belle (2014)
Synopsis: Belle is a 2013 British period drama film directed by Amma Asante, written by Misan Sagay and produced by Damian Jones. It stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson, Miranda Richardson, Penelope Wilton, Sam Reid, Matthew Goode, Emily Watson, Sarah Gadon, Tom Felton and James Norton.

An intricate piano piece - GEORGE FREDERICK HANDEL...

INTERCUT WHITE ON BLACK CREDITS WITH BELOW...

INT. RUSTIC STUDIO OF AN ARTISAN. DAY 111*

A series of shots.

Blue sky through shabby windows.

Run down walls. A paint splashed pine floor. Tens of paint

brushes soaking in stained jars.

An artisan’s hands - weather-worn, swirling a paint brush

in dirty water that sways at the bottom of one of the jars.

A canvas - the sketched face of a woman - blonde, blue eyed

as the artisan strokes paint into her features - a poster

girl for 18th century portraiture. (We will later

recognise her as ELIZABETH MURRAY)

CAPTION:
ENGLAND 1766EXT/INT. DOCKS/SLUM ROOM. ENGLAND - DAY. 222*

A swallow cuts across a red tinged sky. SOUND of footsteps

trudging through mud.

EXTREME CLOSE UP: a small figure being dressed by someone -

a shoulder, an arm, little hands. We do not see a face.

CLOSE:
heavy naval boots move at sombre pace through slums.

Against a stone floor, a child’s feet are laced into boots.

A starving dog barks , darts between tradesmen, sailors.

Hold this image as Handel comes to an END.

INT. SLUM ROOM - DAY. 233*

A CHILD’S POV as the door opens. We see a gentleman in

ceremonial naval dress - CAPTAIN SIR JOHN LINDSAY,

aristocratic, handsome...alarmed at the sight before him.

His eyes close with some sad, internal pain and as they re-

open...We see what he sees...

A fragile girl...around six years old stands in shabby

surroundings. Her terrified eyes stare back, leaving

LINDSAY at a loss. He takes in her features - delicate

with a full mouth that underlines her ethnicity.

She is DIDO ELIZABETH BELLE...part black, part white.

He speaks quietly- words almost as fragile as she is.

CAPTAIN SIR JOHN LINDSAYHello little girl...Little Dido.

(pause)

I am your father.

Silence. Then a tear rises to the surface and as her

confused tears spill, so too do LINDSAY’S.

His POV:
a POOR BLACK WOMAN oversees DIDO from afar.

CAPTAIN SIR JOHN LINDSAY (CONT’D)

(re. Dido)

How lovely she is. So much of her

mother.

(his eyes sting)

I tried...but how...how could I

separate a mother from her child?

(he restrains tears)

And now nature has deprived me of

such a dilemma.

He composes himself - feeling futile...

CAPTAIN SIR JOHN LINDSAY (CONT’D)

Thank you..for taking her.

He reaches into his pocket, holds out money to the woman.

CAPTAIN SIR JOHN LINDSAY (CONT’D)

You may leave us.

The WOMAN hesitates, scurries to DIDO, placing her lips to

the child’s head in a prolonged kiss. Then she is gone.

DIDO is left frightened and stunned!

CAPTAIN SIR JOHN LINDSAY (CONT’D)

Do not be afraid sweet thing. I

am to take you to a good life.

The life you were born to.

He takes out a cube of chocolate, shows it to her. She is

reluctant. He takes a bite - delicious! DIDO moves

forward. He puts the chocolate in her hand. She tastes

it. Sweet cocoa and sugar..and now her tiny mouth is

filled. It makes LINDSAY laugh out loud.

EXT. DOCKS - DAY. 244*

A driver, HARRY - seated at a fine carriage.

As HARRY becomes alarmed - from his POV LINDSAY moves

towards us - the mulatto child in arms.

2.

EXT. KENWOOD HOUSE. LAWNS. DAY. 255*

Silence, except bird song - the splendor of the English

countryside - A neoclassical estate stretches before us.

The figure of a LITTLE GIRL running across the lawns - her

giggle fills the air, her outline faded by the sun.

At French doors to the nursery, a furious greying woman -

LADY MARY MURRAY (40s), waves a wooden spoon and yells...

LADY MARYElizabeth Murray, bring yourself

back here this very moment!

The child crashes to the grass in fits of laughter. She is

no more than 6 years old - Hair the colour of bleached hay

and delicate pale skin.

She rolls on to her back, squinting at the sunlight as...

The SOUND of horse and carriage at the front of the house.

ELIZABETH bolts upright. Her POV: As CAPTAIN SIR JOHN

LINDSAY guides DIDO from the carriage.

WIMBRIDGE, the butler, steps out to receive them.

INT. KENWOOD HOUSE. DRAWING ROOM. DAY. 266*

LADY MANSFIELD (40s), the years have been kind. She is

beautiful, regal - stares ahead in shock...

LORD MANSFIELD (50’s) - a majestic man, white wigged and

low brows, is incandescent, his sister, LADY MARY, frozen.

LORD MANSFIELDWhat in God’s name have you done!!

Their POV - LINDSAY and little DIDO stand.

LADY MANSFIELDShe...she is black.

LINDSAY is pained.

CAPTAIN SIR JOHN LINDSAYShe is my blood.

LADY MARYBut she IS black!

LORD MANSFIELDA detail you chose NOT to share.

CAPTAIN SIR JOHN LINDSAYUncle? You assured me!

3.

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Misan Sagay

Misan Sagay is a screenwriter whose credits include The Secret Laughter of Women, starring Colin Firth, and Their Eyes Were Watching God, starring Halle Berry. Misan’s most recent writing project is Belle, an historical drama starring Tom Wilkinson, Emily Watson and Gugu Mbatha-Raw playing the title role. more…

All Misan Sagay scripts | Misan Sagay Books

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