‘The Woman King’ may not be 100% factual. But it's still a must-see.
Some have criticized it for not telling the full extent to which the Dahomey kingdom participated in the slave trade, but that doesn't change the fact that it's a powerful film.
Set in the 19th century and inspired by true events, the newly released feature film “The Woman King” tells the story of the West African kingdom of Dahomey, the horrific effects of the transatlantic slave trade and the Agojie, the group of fearless women who protect the kingdom. Some people have been criticizing the film for not telling the full extent to which the Dahomey kingdom participated in the slave trade and profited from it. While that may be a fair assessment, it should not hinder the fact that under the direction of Gina Prince-Bythewood, we’ve still got a powerful film about sisterhood, family and unity that’s entertaining and educational.
With the film’s release, a wider variety of people are probably Googling words like “Dahomey” and “Agojie” now than in previous years, hungry for facts and context. And that should be celebrated. At its core, the story is about a group of people fighting against their extinction. To see the story of Black women being a central part of that battle for survival should also be celebrated.
At its core, the story is about a group of people fighting against their extinction. To see the story of Black women being a central part of that battle for survival should also be celebrated.
What should also not be lost is how a film like this gives space to showcase the talent of women, particularly Black ones, in front of and behind the camera. In Hollywood, that doesn’t happen often. “The Woman King” coming to theaters days after four Black women won top awards at the 2022 Emmys on Monday night represents what can happen when they are given the opportunity to bring stories to the world.
For over 20 years, Prince-Bythewood has given entertainment to the film world, from 2000’s “Love and Basketball” to her 2020 Netflix movie “The Old Guard,” an action fantasy. One can say this last film, which reportedly reached nearly 80 million subscribers on the streaming service in its first four weeks, was her calling card for directing “The Woman King.” Hopefully, this will lead to her getting other action-packed projects to direct.