The film, which features Viola Davis in the lead role, is about the Dahomey Kingdom’s fight against the Oyo Empire and the Brazilian slavers, and the victory of the Dahomey Kingdom’s all-female army, the Agojie. Despite the conflict, the story focuses on the developing friendship between the two protagonists.
Who were the Agojie soldiers?
The Agojie soldiers, a unit of six thousand fierce female warriors who served the West African kingdom of Dahomey between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, are the focus of this epic drama. In the popular film, Viola Davis portrays a fictional military chief. The Agojies had a reputation for being brave in real life. The band of warriors had a history of plundering the areas around their camps. According to the Smithsonian, during times of war, they would sever the heads of their enemies and bring them back to the king as “trophies.”
Although Prince-film Bythewood’s is riveting and praises the Agojie for their strength and power, some historians were dissatisfied with how it seemed to gloss over Dahomey’s role in the Atlantic Slave Trade. Dahomey and its female military regime played a significant role in the transatlantic slave trade between the 16th and 18th centuries. Dahomey’s wealth was bolstered by the sale of captives to European traders, who were themselves victims of the brutality of the African tribe.
The Women King was AMAZING
Also the Soundtrack 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾 pic.twitter.com/f5OysM5oQz
— Soul King (@SoulKingLives) September 16, 2022
Gina Prince-Bythewood addresses the boycott hysteria
In an interview with IndieWire, Prince-Bythewood responded to some of the widespread criticism that had surfaced online.
The director began by saying she had “learned early on you cannot win an argument on Twitter,” before claiming that she had indeed thoughtfully addressed the Dahomey’s historical past in the film. Once they see the movie, I’m confident that they won’t remember any of that. This issue is assumed to be unresolved despite the fact that we are actively working to resolve it. Thus, I must maintain that self-assurance in daily life. They are definitely going to see the movie.
Film producer Cathy Schulman has also spoken out about the negative reaction. She said, “I think that we did not hesitate to investigate those areas, so I really wish that the conversations could happen around the film rather than around the anticipation of the film.” Slavery, in reality, is motivated by the pursuit of wealth. It gave people on this continent a means of making money that they had no right to have access to. And once it was, it caused a lot of inner conflict, which the film doesn’t shy away from exploring.
The only thing I can say for certain about any Woman King history controversy is that The Woman King rocks and I have a killer interview with Gina Prince-Bythewood tomorrow in which we talk about all the reasons I think The Woman King rocks
— Matt Patches (@misterpatches) September 17, 2022
Schulman continued, “I think it’s relevant to understand issues surrounding slavery from the standpoint of the African perspective, and I’m a big believer that information is power.” Most of the time, our focus is on what happened after slaves arrived in the United States, rather than on the causes of their enslavement.
Viola Davis has not yet addressed the criticism, but she has urged audiences to stand by the film’s all-Black female cast and director, the African-American filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood.
Pundits Think Viola Davis’s ‘The Woman King’ Tribe Contributed to Slavery.
Some social media users have voiced their displeasure that the Dahomey Kingdom’s role in the “Atlantic Slave Trade” is being downplayed. There are those who defend the film, and the director has even said that this is something that viewers will notice (Nansica has a conversation with King Ghezo about ending the slave trade). Slavery had been outlawed by the British, and the Dahomians were unable to continue selling people into slavery because of this. She continued her defence by saying that she no longer takes part in online debates because she has realised that she has no chance of winning.
Taking into account only box office receipts and critical acclaim, the film is a smashing success. In a poll of moviegoers, 59% of whom were African American, gave it an A+ or A, and since its theatrical release on September 16, 2022, it has made $19 million.
Yes I sure did go see The Woman King for the third time this week! Yes it is that good!! Yes, it awakens our thirst for new storytelling. Yes it raises timeless questions about intra- African complicity. And yes these performances are breathtaking. See it. And then we talk. https://t.co/1aOxHGj5uP
— Kimberlé Crenshaw (@sandylocks) September 17, 2022
As the film is not critical of the slavery promoted under Dahomey but only celebratory of their positive aspects, those opposed to it hope that it is not seen and that moviegoers boycott it.
Those who defend the film argue that audiences should see it for themselves and make up their own minds about it. This appears to be the case, as was mentioned above. However, if we take into account the propensity of Americans to seek out works that have been criticised, or if we attribute this to the
Following the Streisand Effect (when something is banned, it gains more attention afterward), it appears that this project is successful.
Is ‘The Woman King’ based on a true story?
During an event in 2015 in which actress and producer Maria Bello was honouring Viola Davis with the Women Making History Award, the idea for the film that would become The Woman King was conceived. Maria reportedly used the opportunity to propose making a historical drama to Viola, and the idea was met with great enthusiasm. She and producer Cathy Schulman had been developing an idea for some time.
Director Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball, The Old Guard) collaborated with Maria, Cathy, and writer Dana Stevens on the film that would become The Woman King a few years later. Black Panther’s Dora Milaje are said to be based on the Agojie, whose story is told in this film.
Historically, the Agojie were a military unit comprised entirely of women from the West African nation of Dahomey (now Benin). It is believed that King Houegbadja, the third king of Dahomey, founded the organisation. When their leader changed in 1727, the Agojie were no longer used solely for hunting elephants, but instead helped to defeat a nearby kingdom.
Like I said at @TIFF_NET, if you don’t plop down money on opening weekend, you’re not going to see…Black females leading a movie AGAIN. Please continue supporting #TheWomanKing , NOW PLAYING exclusively in theaters. 🗣 Agojie 👑❤🙏🏿 https://t.co/bnYTq7FLcy pic.twitter.com/lHOBBxPAwW
— Viola Davis (@violadavis) September 18, 2022
In the nineteenth century, under King Ghezo, the Agojie were formally established as part of the king’s military. Although the common English term for these women was “Amazon,” the Agojie called themselves “ahosi (king’s wives) or Mino (our mothers),” as Robin Law explains in her scholarly paper.
It is currently unclear whether Viola’s character Nanisca or Thuso’s character Nawi are based on real people, but many of the characters in the film, including King Ghezo (played by Star Wars icon John Boyega), are based on real counterparts.
As Viola and Gina told it to Vanity Fair, there simply aren’t that many written materials about these ladies. The white colonialist who wrote the only book available in English about the Agojie did so out of ethnographic curiosity.
“Our production designer, the incredible Akin McKenzie, began sifting through and cutting out anything that reflected the colonizer’s perspective. He was aware of the photographs that were staged for the World’s Fair. Few actual photographs of these women exist. The vast majority of them are copies “That’s what Gina clarified for us.