The power and beauty of The Woman King can be seen and felt. From the strength and courage of the warriors to the stunning landscape they call home, this film is an epic journey both in story and visually. The best part, it’s based on real events.
The human trade industry has become problematic when King Ghezo finds people of Dahomey have been taken prisoner. To help bring them home the King sets his all-female worriers the Agojie to bring them home. But what they find is a much bigger problem they must prepare for.
Recruiting more strong willed female warriors, Nanisca is building an even larger and stronger army. But her position as head of the Agojie doesn’t come without some headaches, one in particular, Nawi.
Nawi Struggles to follow the rules and while her sisters are as important to her as family, she manages to do both, help her sisters and help her King. The passion and stubbornness is something Nanisca recognises in herself, possibly because of her secret past.
In an epic battle where the forces of Dahomey stop the coming invasion of the Oyo Empire, the Oyo manage to capture a number of warriors and attempt to sell them to slavers.
With a conscience about leaving some of her sisters behind one of which is Nawi, Nanisca sets out to bring them home. Against the King’s order, a group of warriors from the Dahomey ambush the Oyo, but not without a bloodbath to get there.
The thing that stands out with The Woman King is how visually splendid it is. There is not a detail overlooked and this adds to the authenticity of the story being told. Part of the charm of the film is in the scenery of Africa. The land and the villages all hold a charm and beauty making the viewer feel an intimacy with the setting.
The costumes are also a standout with a focus on the detail. For example the warriors rank and the clothing they wear. The King and his elegant and perfectly revealing attire shows stature but also style. To add to these stunning costumes are the endless hair styles with each day giving a different reflection to the mood.
Viola Davis leads the cast as Nanisca in one of her strongest performances. Not only does she dominate in her action scenes, which she has claimed are mostly all performed by herself. Davis also does what she does best and that is act. There is no emotion Davis can’t express to incite a reaction from even the toughest of audiences. In the scene where Nanisca is by the shrine and Nawi has just walked away, Davis taps into the very deep emotion that felt like she was carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. No dialogue, but a moving scene nonetheless.
The film is at the hand of Director Gina Prince-Bythewood. Her previous works include the likes of The Old Guard, The Secret Life of Bees and Everybody Hates Chris. Prince-Bythewood is clearly able to bring to life everything not just the story but the scenery, characters and most of all the action. It’s a beautiful weaving through these points rounding out to an epic journey.
Overall The Woman King is one of those films you don’t see coming. While it’s based on actual events, it manages to capture this epic story and execute it with visual perfection. It also taps into the deep embed challenges women face and have faced for centuries. A truly remarkable story made for the big screen.
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