The Woman King is a film that follows General Nanisca (Viola Davis) as the leader of the Dahomey Amazons who were paramount in the rise of the African militant system centuries ago.
With the historical undertone as it’s foundation this film is set to deliver a profound and powerful impact on the film industry when it is released. This story packs a heavy strike, figuratively speaking, as the first of its kind to tell the story about an all African women warrior regime at the forefront of a country’s military defense.
Based on the real events that took place in the West African kingdom of Dahomey lived Agoji, a tribe of African female warriors, appointed by Queen Hangbe and future kings that reigned. With history that precedes back to the 17th century it is a wonder how this story isn’t common knowledge. But more often then not world history tells the recurring tale of men fighting for their country, which makes it refreshing to learn about a group of African Amazonian women fighting for their kingdom.
Luckily, this piece of black history is in capable hands with Love and Basketball director Gina Prince-Blythewood and Oscar award winning actress Viola Davis as the lead star.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Davis spoke on the importance of this role; “I’ve never had a role like this before. It’s transformative….There’s always a vision you have for your career, but there are very few roles as an actress of color. Dark skin with a wide nose and big lips. I’m just gonna continue to say it. Those stories are extraordinarily limited.”
In a film that has limited historical context it is expected that the writing and direction be merged in a way that is as authentic as it can be. In fact, The Old Guard director made it an appoint to not only make these women look strong but show humility as well, “We didn’t want to show them as just one thing—badass women who killed. They also laughed and loved and cried. We wanted to show their full humanity, not just the cool part that that would look good in a trailer” said Prince-Blythewood in the same Vanity interview.
Giving credit where credit is due, it would be remiss if the wildly successful Marvel film Black Panther wasn’t acknowledged in the groundwork of stories like this being put into fruition. Women warriors were depicted alongside of the superhero but at the time hadn’t had a proper backstory. Prince-Blythewood echoed the same sentiment when speaking to The Hollywood Reporter saying that, “Their [Black Panther] success absolutely had a hand in us finally getting a green light. They changed culture.”
Davis will share the screen with John Boyega, Thuso Mbedu, Sheila Atim and Lashana Lynch just to name a few and the film is set to slay theaters on September 16th.
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