Watch The Belle of Amherst
- 1 hr 30 min
The Belle of Amherst, released in 1976, is a film adaptation of a stage play written by William Luce. It is a biographical work about the life of one of America's greatest poets, Emily Dickinson. The play is a solo performance, and the movie is no different, featuring the talented and celebrated actress, Julie Harris. The setting of the movie is the home of Emily Dickinson in Amherst, Massachusetts. The film follows Dickinson's life as a reclusive but brilliant poet. The movie begins with her initial reflections on her reclusive lifestyle that she has adapted in order to be able to write proudly with no social interruption.
There is no actual plot to the movie, as it is a storytelling experience. The character of Emily Dickinson narrates her life story as she reads excerpts from her famous poems. She spends most of her days in her bedroom, writing and reading her works. Her parents, brother, sister, and visitors come in and out of her room as she continues to maintain her introverted nature.
The audience gets to see Emily Dickinson's life through her words and actions, with an occasional visitor playing a supporting role in her narrative, and Harris brings Dickinson to life in a way that is captivating, entertaining, and insightful.
The film also explores the deep emotional connections Dickinson had with her family, particularly with her brother Austin, who would later cheat on his wife with one of their father's employees, who just happened to be Emily's close friend. Although the affair was not explicitly shown, the film hints at the emotional toll it took on Emily and her friend.
In addition, the movie lets Emily's poetry take center stage. Harris delivers Dickinson's poems with passion and conviction, highlighting the emotional depth in her words. Even those who may not have previously appreciated or understood Dickinson's poetry can appreciate the beauty and power captured in her writing.
The movie also captures the time period in which Dickinson lived, with her family and other members of her community discussing the Civil War and the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. It gives context to the era in which Dickinson lived and wrote, allowing the audience to better understand the themes and messages conveyed in her poetry.
Overall, The Belle of Amherst is an intimate look into the life of a brilliant but often misunderstood poet. Julie Harris delivers a noteworthy performance, and the film is an emotional, inspiring, and beautiful tribute to a literary icon.