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The Woman King, the film about African Amazons – African Markets

Sony Pictures Entertainment’s ‘The Woman King’, which portrays the warriors of the kingdom of Dahomey, present-day Benin, in the 19th century, starring Viola Davis in the lead role, has grossed $19 million in box office sales. tickets on its launch day. At least 25% more than analysts had predicted.

The film tells the true story of Nanisca, an experienced warrior who teaches a group of recruits to fight a rival African country and European slavers. Although it is based on real events, it is already generating a lot of controversy due to the way the story is told.

The film

Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood from a screenplay by Dana Stevens, “The Woman King” centers on the Agojie, a troop of female warriors from 19th century Africa known for the African Amazons.

Although “The Woman King” received rave reviews, once the trailer and other preview material for the film was released, discussions quickly began over concerns that the film covered or ignored aspects of drug trafficking. slaves.

“The Woman King” cost around $50 million and is expected to generate around $100 million in revenue in the United States alone.


Every time a movie about a historical epic comes out, there’s a debate about what’s right or wrong about the story and whether or not that matters. “The Woman King”, the action film, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, was no exception.

But for the first time, this discussion is helpful, if only because it reveals how filmmakers can get tangled up trying to balance the demands of audiences for precision and narratives that flatter their political prejudices.

“The Woman King” is about the Agojie, the fierce African warriors of the Kingdom of Dahomey, led by the fearless General Nanisca (Viola Davis). The film depicts the time when they are at war with the Oyo who fund their struggle by enslaving other Africans and selling them to the Portuguese.

In this version of the story, the king of Dahomey, Ghezo (John Boyega), also participates in the slave trade, but only enough to acquire weapons to defend himself against the Oyo and the film does not present this aspect as something important thing.

There are other storylines in “The Woman King,” but the issue of slavery is naturally the one that critics have focused on.

The argument against the film: the kingdom of Dahomey was not formed by righteous abolitionists concerned with the effects of colonial barbarism on their pure continent. No, they were cruel slavers and slavers. The kind of slavers who went from village to village and rounded up as many humans as they could to enslave them.

On the one hand, they curse the film saying it whitewashes Dahomey’s role in the slave trade. In contrast, they condemn the film as being written by white women who have commodified an African story, to the detriment of black women’s bodies.

For critics, the issue of historical accuracy should be consistent and straightforward: it doesn’t matter much, if at all, when considering the quality of a film.

In “The Woman King”, obscuring Dahomey’s participation in the role of slavery takes away its intellectual weight and its complexity, the narrative. The film could have been much more provocative and had a more convincing argument. The “historical whitewash” may have cost the film an Oscar when Lupita Nyong’o walked away from the project after exploring her character’s backstory.

Another question that deserves to be asked: does the politics of the moment make it impossible to make a faithful film about a kingdom like Dahomey?

The way it was created, “The Woman King” could probably be nothing more than a thrilling action epic whose heroes inspired a cast of characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

It’s hard to imagine Hollywood making a film about Britain’s blockade of Africa, a turning point in efforts to end the transatlantic slave trade. Such an image would be dismissed in pre-production as a “white savior” narrative or a defense of imperialism; would be persecuted for diminishing the importance of African abolitionists.


Hollywood failed to make “The Woman King” a historically accurate film because either the story works in the film or it doesn’t, regardless of the historical truth of Agojie. But the reality is that it could have been a great movie, rather than a good one, if the politics of the day let the movie tell a more complicated truth.

What do you think of the movie “The Woman King”? Have you seen him? Do you agree that current politics has prevented a truer story from being made? We want to know your opinion, do not hesitate to comment and if you liked the article, share and give a “like / like”.

See also:

Nzinga Mbandi in N’gola Kiluanji, from myth to reality

Picture: © 2022 Sony Pictures