Perseverance, Adaptability, Courage: The Woman King

The Blue & White has never written a review on a movie so good before. Yes, we are serious. The Woman King, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, is one of this year’s greatest films so far. Even one of our teachers, Ms. Lewis, can’t express enough how much she loved The Woman King. We watched and analyzed the movie, searching for good cinematography, actors/actresses, costume design and historical accuracy. At the end, we will do a Rotten Tomatoes style of rating where we give you a percentage of how good or bad the film is. 100% the greatest and 0% the worst.

We kept the summary of the film as spoiler-free as possible, but bear in mind that we can’t give you an entire article on this film without some minor spoilers, so be warned. Here’s our summary: the time is the 1820s, and the Dahomey kingdom, located in West-Africa, is attacked by a foreign enemy who wants to take the Dahomey people captive and sell them to European slave traders. The story follows the protagonist, General Nanisca, played by Viola Davis, a marvelous actress, and one that Ms. Lewis states is “a goddess.” General Nanisca is in charge of training female warriors to fight this new enemy, one who wields guns and modern technology, and Nanisca’s warriors must settle with their traditional melee weapons. General Nanisca stands against the king of the village who asks her not to go free the captive slaves. When she does this, they burn the slave village down, kill its owners, and chaos erupts–creating what might be one of the best action-packed scenes we have ever seen, and our personal favorite of the film. When Nanisca returns from the battle, the current king’s wife is tossed aside and the general is crowned the Woman King. In the film, there’s even a twist about one of the main character’s lineages, which is received in the latter half of the plot. Overall, the movie is enjoyable during the entirety of its two hours and fourteen minutes runtime.

The Woman King absolutely must be recognized for its stunning cinematography and the grandeur of the costume design. Gersha Phillips is the film’s costume designer, and as you can see from the images in our article, the Dahomey people certainly fought in style. The costume designer even stated that working on a women’s empowerment action film about a band of African women warriors in the early 1800s made her refer to it as a dream project. The Woman King also invites us to the beautiful landscapes of West-Africa and draws our attention, even if only briefly, from the chaotic situation our characters are in. Even greater than the films costumes and cinematography is the actors/actresses themselves and the brilliantly written characters that they portray. As mentioned previously, Viola Davis is General Nanisca. Thuso Mbedu plays the stubborn character of Nawi. Not last and certainly not the least is John Boyega, who is King Ghezo in the film. These three are a few among the many talented individuals in this film.

There is some controversy and criticism surrounding The Woman King, however, which we will address. There are concerns circulating online about the film’s historical accuracy, or inaccuracy in this case. Regardless of its accuracy though, the film is a success in our book because it not only tells a wonderful story, but backs it up with splendid actors, goddess-tier characters, their in-depth character development, alluring set designs, and gorgeous costumes. We give this film a 95% taking all things into account. When asked if there was anything she didn’t like about the film, Ms. Lewis expresses “No… No, I loved everything. I thought [about] how hard the actors worked for this role and the training. How strong these women were. I thought it was a beautiful film,” And in the beauty there is pain, but Nanisca and her warriors fought the good fight and got their happy-ish ending. General Nanisca is The Woman King.