Sony Pictures historical epic drama The Woman King will make its debut on September 16th. The movie has been set-up as a having a historical basis, telling the story of the real-life Kingdom of Dahomey in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Oscar-winner Viola Davis leads the movie as Nanisca, General of the all-female military unit known as the Amazons. In the movie she fights alongside her daughter Nawi against the neighbouring tribes who violated their honor, and the evil white invaders who enslaved their people.

The Woman King

However, the movie is heading into controversy. Historians have pointed out that the reality behind the Kingdom of Dahomey was far, far more… what is the word they use… problematic.

In reality, Dahomey was a notorious slave kingdom, and not the Pan-African freedom fighters as the movie presents them. They enslaved and murdered hundreds of thousands from other tribes and sold them into the slave trade.

Dahomey was renowned as the “Black Sparta,” and was a fiercely militaristic society bent on domination and conquest. Their soldiers struck fear into other tribes all along what is still known as the Slave Coast, as they captured tribespeople from enemy tribes and sold them as slaves.

The Dahomey women fought to protect their own slave trade. Even worse for those who struggle with reality, the Amazons were formed from among the king’s “third class” wives. These were those considered insufficiently beautiful to share his bed and who had not borne children. Awkward!


The Woman King also stars John Boyega as the King, with Lashana Lynch, Thuso Mbedu, Adrienne Warren, Jayme Lawson, Hero Fiennes Tiffin, and Sheila Atim rounding out the cast.

The Old Guard filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood directs from a screenplay she co-wrote with Dana Stevens. Here is the trailer for those who missed it upon release last month.

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