This is going to be a tricky one since if I say anything bad about The Woman King, I’m a racist-woman-hating-manpig. On the other hand, I don’t want to sell out.
Hmmm. Personally, I loved the movie!
No, let’s get into a real review. The Woman King is:
“A historical epic inspired by true events that took place in The Kingdom of Dahomey, one of the most powerful states of Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries.”
It stars Viola Davis, Thuso Mbedu, Lashana Lynch, Sheli Atim, Masali Baduza, Jayme Lawson, Adrienne Warren, and some men.
If this movie came out about 10, 15 years ago, it might have been pretty good. It would have had an interesting story, the action was good, and overall it was a good piece of entertainment.
However, we live in 2022, and movies today have to be made for the “modern audience”. This means there can’t just be a story, there has to be a morality tale to fit in with what Hollywood execs think is its audience. You know, the people on Twitter.
I’m not going to go massively into detail around the story, but at times it gets ridiculous. For example the main character, Nawi, is supposed to be married but doesn’t want to, so is sent to the woman’s army training camp. There she discovers the main warrior, Nanisca, is actually her mother, who had to give her away since she was the result of a rape. These are the Days Of Our Lives.
There is more going on, like the Europeans are there to deal in slaves. Obviously, all the white men are evil and the only slave trader who is nice to the slave is a guy who is mixed race. All whites are evil, but if you have a bit of black in you, you’re OK.
John Boyega plays the king, but again, he is literally there as a token man. The women at the end of the movie completely ignore his request and go off to rescue Nawi, but when they get back, they are all praised and Nanisca is hailed as the Woman King.
To quote Peter Griffin from an episode of Family Guy:
“See kids, everything always works out, if you do whatever you want and don’t think about the consequences.”
That’s the message in this movie. It’s about standing up to the “man”, literally, and doing whatever you like, and you’ll be praised for it.
Now let’s move on to some historical facts about the movie. This snippet is from the IMDb as the first piece of trivia:
“The film is based on the Kingdom of Dahomey…it became known to Europeans as a major supplier of slaves. As a highly militaristic kingdom constantly organised for warfare, it captured children, women, and men during wars and raids against neighboring societies, and sold them into the Atlantic slave trade in exchange for European goods such as rifles, gunpowder, fabrics, cowrie shells, tobacco, pipes, and alcohol.
Other remaining captives became slaves in Dahomey, where they worked on royal plantations and were routinely mass executed during the festival celebrations known as the Annual Customs of Dahomey.”
These are the people that are being glorified in The Woman King, but they were slavers and mass murderers. I have seen some people on Twitter defending the movie, saying it is set in a time when they weren’t doing that anymore. So, if you were a slaver, it’s OK if you just stop being one. That’s something BLM matter didn’t seem to mention anywhere.
If you read more about the Kingdom of Dahomey, they were slavers from day one and carried on doing it until the fall of their society around 1894. However, to enjoy this movie, you just need to ignore all that, so you can see how great the women are.
Women Are Great
The entire thread of the movie is about how being a woman is great, standing together is good, and you can accomplish anything if you have boobs.
There is a great sequence where they are doing a race to see who is the best warrior, it’s like an obstacle course, where some of the trials are fighting your way through thorn bushes, which looked really bad and actually made me wince.
This was going fine, until the main character sees her friend struggle, so goes back to help her. I thought the “message” was about being strong and independent, but it is also now about helping out other women? So be strong and independent, but not on your own.
The Men Of The Woman King
In a nutshell, all the men in this are evil, with the exception of Boyega who is the king. He can, however, be disrespected, undermined, and completely ignored in places, because, you know, he’s a man.
The white slavers are all evil, since they ARE dealing with slaves. All the men from neighboring tribes are rapists.
The fight scenes in The Woman King are pretty good if you ignore the fact that women can take out a man much bigger than them with nothing more than their wits. OK, so the Mino, the warrior women, were highly trained, but again, I just don’t see them beating a guy twice their size.
As I mentioned, the only other ‘good guy’, is the mixed-race slaver who tries to help. I think his mother was Brazilian and his dad was a European, and so, being mixed race, he’s got enough black in him to make him OK.
Some of the movie is not bad, but that’s only if you ignore the slavery, the “message”, and all the other cultural propaganda that is being pushed on you. The fight scenes are pretty good, and I have to say, and the cast is very good.
I’m calling it now, Viola Davis will get an Oscar for this movie, at the very least a nomination. This is deserved, since is very good, but she’s still playing a female character who has been raped, had to give up her child, was forced into an army, fought many battles, and defied the king, only to be crowned the Woman King in the end.
Obviously, my not liking this movie means I’m a racist, misogynist pig etc. etc. but then, I’m not watching this through the eyes of a woman who has been oppressed all her life for being a woman and for being black.
I can see why people are defending The Woman King, but at the same time, they shouldn’t be, purely on the basis of historical accuracy. I give it a low score. WHat is does score, it gets for good performances, but it is all undermined by the historical liberties and the “message”.