How the King’s Woman confronts Africa’s role in the slave trade, explained by director Gina Prince-Bethwood


In a cinematic landscape of reboots and sequences, it is somewhat surprising that Gina Prince-Bethwood would do a historical epic about black female warriors in nineteenth century Africa.

What is also striking is the historical research that went into making her film. woman king. As Prince-Bythwood explains, filmmakers could not look away from the role of the Kingdom of Dahomey in the transatlantic slave trade.

woman king He made $19 million At the box office this weekend, he put viewers on the front lines of the real-life struggle for freedom that took place in what is today Benin. Set in the year 1823, the film follows a female warrior tribe called the Agojie, also known as the Dahomey Amazons, who defend their kingdom against French colonists and hostile African tribes.

Viola Davis stars as the group’s general, Nanisca, who works to persuade the young king, Ghezo, to end the kingdom’s role in the slave trade. The film was shot in South Africa, from a screenplay by Dana Stevens, and draws heavily on research into costumes, weapons, architecture, and the culture of Dahomey.

Online reaction has been mostly positive, with viewers praising the action movie that highlights the strength and ferocity of black women warriors. Critics criticized the film for not delving deeply enough Dahomey Legacy To build her fortune by grabbing people and selling them in the slave trade, some even on social media call for boycott from the movie.

on me Today’s explanation Podcast explaining daily news from Vox Host Noel King I spoke to director Jenna Prince-Bythewood about the challenges of making this film, and about wrestling with the historical complexity of Dahomey and her female warriors.

Below is an excerpt from the conversation, edited for length and clarity. There’s a lot more to the full podcast, so listen to it Today’s explanation Wherever you get podcasts, including Apple PodcastAnd the google podcastAnd the spotifyAnd the Stitcher.


Noel King

This is an action movie starring black women, filmed two centuries ago, with men barely visible on screen. What are the biggest challenges in getting a movie like this?

Jenna Prince-Bethwood

You know, Hollywood is a great place, where people talk about wanting original stories, yet they constantly fall back on what’s familiar because what’s familiar is safe. There is a track record for that. So when you come out with original content — which, as an audience, is what gets me excited — it’s even harder to sell. It’s certainly hard to sell when it’s a movie, or a historical epic, and it’s definitely a literary genre dominated by stories of males, male heroes, and male heroes and villains. And we certainly haven’t seen this with black women before.

Noel King

So what’s your stance on walking into a room with people you know might be skeptical?

Jenna Prince-Bethwood

I would like to say my enthusiasm and passion for this, when I read the script, I watched the movie. And I feel like I’m my number one audience and the movie in my head was exactly the kind of movie I’d die to watch. And so he brought that passion into the room. But not just the passion, but the brag of “Everything I tell you I want this movie to be, I can do it because my body from my work has shown you that I can do it.” And certainly there is old guard On my résumé at that point it was quite helpful in their belief that, yes, she could do the work and do these big chops really well. People rule out what emotion can do. When you enter a room, you convince someone to give you millions of dollars. Your vision should inspire and excite. This is what you really come up with.

Noel King

This is a movie based on real historical events and a real historical kingdom, which of course makes things more complicated. As you approached this movie, did you have some degree of apprehension about how to make history come alive and how you would deal with some of the historical challenges?

Jenna Prince-Bethwood

I guess it wasn’t intimidating, because historical epics are some of my favorite movies. you know, brave heartI’ve watched it hundreds of times. I loved this movie. Another of the Mohicans. the gladiator. These films are set in real time in history, however there are some innovations in terms of characters and your ability to tell personal stories within that. So I knew to go at the scale I wanted to have, the confidence in that and the excitement and ability to tell the story of this kingdom, like that something extra to know that these women were real, and that David and Juliet this was the battle they fought was real, and the stakes were real, And her reasons were real, that this kingdom was real, that politics and gender politics were real. I kept getting more excited as I dig deeper because I saw more truth and more credibility that I could pour into the story.

Noel King

Lots of movies you seem to like, movie center guys. They always have, right?

Jenna Prince-Bethwood

yes.

Noel King

And this is where you didn’t. Viola Davis isn’t just the star, she’s the beating heart of the movie. The rest of the main cast are all women. Did you know you’re making something that would be a game-changer if done right?

Jenna Prince-Bethwood

I think I looked at him as if I knew we were doing something that hadn’t been done before. It was exciting as an artist to be able to do that. And knowing because of that, who was leading in that movie, and who the heroes are in that movie, I feel like I’ve been under more pressure and say I put pressure on myself to get the movie right. I needed people to be able to go into this movie and be captured by these warriors. When I started watching it while we were cutting it together, I would do smiles when I look at the screen and see these characters. He’s like, “Oh, we did this and I can watch this anytime I want. I can turn on our editing screens and see these warriors, these black women being heroes.” And that was really exciting.

Noel King

I want to ask you about the history here, because some of this is tricky. There was the kingdom of Dahomey. One of the ways this kingdom became so wealthy was that it captured its enemies and sold them to European slave traders. Much of this was happening in West Africa at the time. And that’s very difficult for a filmmaker, I imagine, because your heroes are part of a kingdom that does this horrific thing and historically one of the most terrible things that has ever happened. How did you wrestle with, that my good women are part of a kingdom that does such a terrible thing?

Jenna Prince-Bethwood

The science was that at the time we put this in, the kingdom was at a crossroads – and a legitimate crossroads – of half of this kingdom and its people wanting to abolish being part of the trade and the other half wanting to keep it because it gave them their wealth. And the ability to use these women as a voice of desire for change. Thus being able to deal with, yes, they did this, but there was a fight and the young king, Ghezo, was in the middle of this, trying to decide which way to take and finally decided to oppose it, knowing that it could affect his rule, which And, you know, for me personally, I find him heroic because he gave up his power to do the right thing.

Noel King

You are referring to a topic during the movie. But there is a very lively scene in which Viola Davis, who plays General Nanska, tries to convince the King, played by John Boyega, to give up the slave trade and instead make money from palm oil production, something the Kingdom of Dahomey has a lot of. “The slave trade is the reason for our prosperity,” he says. She says, “But at what cost?” Historically, did that conversation happen?

Jenna Prince-Bythwood

Oh, sure. They had the means and eventually went to palm oil production as their main source of income. Did that happen specifically with Nanesca? Nanesca is a fusion of a number of different people, but that’s the direction they’ve gone in the end. This was the story. And there were moments when some felt it was easier not to focus on that and make it easy. And I wasn’t going to do that. We had to be honest.



Source link

Related Posts

Precaliga