In the 18th century European countries not only colonised parts of Africa, but they started making money by selling the people who live there as slaves. Using conflicts between tribes, the Westerners even got come tribes as far as selling them their prisoners. Of course this becomes lucrative for both parties.
The film is mostly about the tribe of the Dahomey who do business (of sorts) with the Portuguese and their enemies of the Oyo who are armed by the West. The Dahomey have an elite female fighting force called Agojie.
So, there we have Nawi who does not obey her father and is sent to ‘serve the king’. Also we have Nanisca who leads the Agojie and who has the respect of her king. Nawi is trained by the Agojie and of course the film moves towards the final conflict.
“The Woman King” has everything a large-audience movie is supposed to have. Battle scenes, a victorious underdog, drama and some romance. What is less common, is that the West is the enemy. The saddening history of slavery is quite in-your-face. The way the Westerners manipulated the situation for their own gain is quite disgusting. What is even more, of course the story is molded into a Hollywood format, but there appears to be more ‘based on actual history’ than what the inattentive viewer may expect.
The names of actors contain many African names. It seems that the makers got a couple of actors and a lot of locals. The result is a well-made film which may be a bit ‘too Hollywood’ here and there, but at least now there is some attention for a piece of history that many countries struggle with nowadays. Watch “The Woman King” and find out why.