Musical Score By: Rachel Portman

Distributed by: Varese Sarabande Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                In Belle, the British dramatic film inspired by the 1779 painting of Dido Elizabeth Belle and her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray, Gugu Mbatha-Raw is Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate mixed race daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay (Matthew Goode).  Raised by her great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson), the color of Dido's skin negates what privileges her lineage affords her.  But when she falls in love with a young white attorney, it sets the stage for what will eventually become the end of slavery in England.

                The musical score of Belle was created by British composer Rachel Portman who began composing at the age of fourteen.  Studying music at Worcester College in Oxford, Portman began writing music for student films and theater productions.  Her career in musical composition began with BBC and Channel 4 films.  Since then, she has created a number of scores for feature films like Marvin's Room, Benny & Joon, The Joy Luck Club, The Lake House, Hart's War, The Duchess and more, but is bets known for the musical scores of The Cider House Rules and Chocolat.

                The musical score for Belle features a dramatic central theme that first appears in the Main Titles.  Mainly consisting of dramatic orchestral score, the track is run through with a striking piano piece that speaks volumes about the main character, a woman with charm and spirit and a sense of rebelliousness.  The theme appears throughout the album, but grows darker in nature as the movie progresses, defining the emotions of Dido in the various situations she finds herself in throughout the film.  The darker the circumstances, the darker the tone of music.

                The Belle Soundtrack features a score that is perfect for a period piece about a forbidden romance.  The drama and emotion are easily read through the music.  As a stand alone album, it is quite an enjoyable experience, especially for fans of piano and strings.  Listening to this album has definitely inspired me to see the film.


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