REVIEW: The problem with ‘The Woman King’

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By Carlos Ayala 

Sony’s newest film, “The Woman King”, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood has hit theaters across the nation, and already many people are divided on this movie, and for good reason.

This movie is marketed as a “based on true events” film, but as usual with Hollywood, that means the studio took some liberties on how historically accurate the film actually is. In this case, the film essentially rewrites history in order to make a better narrative.

The movie surrounds and takes place within the Dahomey Kingdom in West Africa. The issue of this movie is the portrayal of the protagonists and heroes, as it is not historically accurate. This kingdom was infamous for its massive contribution to the Atlantic Slave Trade. 

By the end of the movie, which takes place in 1823, King Gezo (John Boyega) declares that the kingdom will no longer participate in the act of selling slaves. The real-life King Gezo did not stop selling slaves until January of 1852. He only stopped once the British led a naval blockade to force them to stop selling slaves.

Although the movie does twist the actual events that happened, the movie does still give an effort to recognize Dahomey’s contribution to the slave trade. Moving past the historical inaccuracy, the movie is actually quite good. It has many strong points that most movies nowadays don’t bother trying. The writing is good as the movie does take itself and its story seriously. 

The costumes within the movie were gorgeous. The Cinematography also excels, taking advantage of the movie’s setting in Africa. They show off some of the beautiful natural scenery.  The action and fight scenes are also engaging, as any time they appear, there are high stakes and tension. Every time someone gets stabbed or punched, you feel how much it hurts. 

The performances are great, as the cast is clearly trying their best to give this movie an authentic feel. However, the weakest part of the movie is the lack of character development. Besides Nanisca (Viola Davis) and Nawi (Thuso Mbedu), most of the characters are not fleshed out beyond their use in the story. Besides those minor complaints, the film itself is made very well.

This is a shame because we need more movies that push Black women into the spotlight. We need more movies that take place in Africa to teach and learn about the African history that is very often neglected. While this movie may have its problems of not telling a true story, it does at the very least portray a part of history that is often forgotten.

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