The House

The Woman King

Featuring a host of British talent, this epic historical blockbuste­r is a rare and refreshing tale of empowermen­t told from a Black woman’s perspectiv­e

- Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood Broadcaste­r General cinema release

It has been said that history is written by the victors. Indeed, “his”story would literally have us believe that the victor is more often than not a man. A white man. So it was refreshing to see The Woman King, a story of sheroism, empowermen­t and sacrifice, from the perspectiv­e of women. Black women. Black women are usually depicted and discussed as a collection of problems to be solved – be it discrimina­tion, poverty or underrepre­sentation – so it was particular­ly beautiful to see these Black women the victors and very much their own solution. Fighting for each other and fighting for their people.

This splashy Hollywood movie is complete with the expected stunning performanc­es from the icon that is Viola Davis and some well-known South African actors. So often large-scale movie depictions of Black history are about, and acted out by, Americans. But this Black History Month we are treated to Black British women Lashana Lynch, Sheila Atim and Shaina West shining just as bright in key roles. We also had a host of

British actors in John Boyega, Jordan Bolger and Hero Fiennes Tiffin. This is something we can all be proud of.

For a nation of our size, we have always punched well above our weight, largely due to the influence and wealth garnered from slavery and colonialis­m. The significan­ce of British actors, who are the product of this, featuring so heavily in this particular film cannot be overlooked. It also says a lot about the talent of this under-represente­d group featuring so heavily in this blockbuste­r.

The film addresses a range of issues, from unity to ruthless ambition, and the rarely discussed fightback against the slave trade in Africa. Also, despite what some critics have said, it does depict African involvemen­t in the slave trade. But even if it did not, so what? The movie doesn’t claim to be based on entirely factual events. It claims to be based on the Agojie, an all-female warrior group that did exist and did protect the former kingdom of Dahomey in West Africa. It never strays from that.

To me these criticisms display the level of misogynoir ever present in our society. For a film based on actual historical figures, that is openly fictional, it is sad to see responses that exclusivel­y pick apart Black women’s heroism for negative historical context. The same criticism is rarely given to other films. It’s a shame anyone would see this film through that lens – and a sign that we need more films like it. So I hope many people get to see this film in all its greatness, and the parts that will make them laugh, cry – and definitely want to cheer.

“It was particular­ly beautiful to see these Black women the victors and very much their own solution”

 ?? ?? Viola Davis
Viola Davis
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 ?? ?? Lashana Lynch
Lashana Lynch
 ?? ?? John Boyega
John Boyega
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