The popular Jane Austen film series has returned to the Eudora Welty House and Garden. The 2013 British movie “Belle” will be the second installment on Friday, October 5. The grounds will open at 5 p.m. with the program beginning at 6:45 and the film at 7:15.
The Austen Film Series in the Welty Garden is free of charge thanks to a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council. No reservations are necessary. In the event of inclement weather, the films will be shown across the street in the Student Center at Belhaven University.
Although the movie has much in common with Austen’s novel “Mansfield Park,” it is not a direct adaptation. Rather, the film is inspired by the 1779 painting of two great nieces of the 1st Earl of Mansfield, who was also the Lord Chief Justice of England. In the portrait Dido Elizabeth Belle, a mixed race daughter of Mansfield’s nephew, is portrayed next to her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray.
The film takes a fictional view into real events as it centers on Dido’s relationship with an aspiring lawyer as a court case is heard about enslaved Africans who were thrown overboard from a ship—and the owner who claimed the loss with his insurance company. Lord Mansfield ruled on the actual case in 1786 in a decision that contributed to the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act of 1807.
“Mansfield Park is not about Dido Belle, but it does allude to race and the slave trade,” said Carolyn Brown, state coordinator of the Jane Austen Society of North America. “The novel was written just seven years after the Abolition Act, so the subject of slavery may have very well been on Austen’s mind. Plus there was a connection to Elizabeth Murray, who knew Austen and her family.”
The Eudora Welty House and Garden and the Jayne Austen Society of North America-Mississippi are partnering with Crossroads Film Society on the series, which will conclude with a screening of Austenland on October 19.
“Bring a chair or blanket and enjoy these adaptations of the works of one of Welty’s favorite writers,” said Bridget Edwards, director of the Eudora Welty House and Garden.
For more information on the film series email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 601-353-7762.
The Eudora Welty House and Garden interprets the life of the internationally acclaimed author. Tours are by reservation Tuesday through Friday and the second Saturday of each month. The house is located at 1119 Pinehurst Street in Jackson and is operated by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
The 1995 adaptation of Persuasion, one of Austen’s best-known novels, was screened on Friday, September 21.