‘The Woman King’ Mixes History and Action


There was no other kingdom in all of Africa — and probably in almost no other part of the world — where women could be warriors, besides the kingdom of Dahomey.

And the new movie “The Woman King” released at the beginning of September 2022 tells the unusual story of the Agojie, the Amazon warriors of Africa.

This just-over-two hour movie is inspired by real events that happened between 1600 and 1800 A.D. in a reign in the Gulf of Guinea — with the small difference. The whole plot has been fictionalized through the made-up story of Nawi, a young woman who denies getting married and following her culture’s traditions.

The girl’s behavior unleashes the wrath of her father, who decides to offer her to the king to make her useful.

At the Royal Castle, there’s, in fact, the possibility of joining the all-female military corps that protects the kingdom and its people. The women of this army have no husbands, no children, and have to live their lives inside the palace where they train and practice combat.

Being part of the Agojie involved discipline and many sacrifices. Still, there’s a phrase in the movie that explains perfectly what these women received in exchange for lives devolved to the kingdom: “We will be revered. You will be paid for your work. Your opinions will be heard,” the general, Nanisca, said.

For a young rebel like Nawi, this is the perfect occasion to escape from a life where she would be only an abused wife and a baby-making machine Therefore, she immediately starts to train hard with the goal to be the bravest and greatest warrior of the next generation of recruits.

Her determination, however, often results in presumption, therefore, she often gives the leader Nanisca a hard time. The leader has to remind Nawi of the real values of a warrior: humility and devotion.

Nanisca is a woman full of regrets and bad memories of the past, but being so close to the brightness of Nawi gives her the strength to keep fighting against Dahomey’s biggest enemy, the Oyo empire, who responsible for the trafficking of slaves and weapons with the Europeans.

“The Woman King” has been very successful. It is now one of the most viewed movies on Netflix. It has many good aspects: nice and colorful costumes, and an extremely interesting representation of African traditions, rites. Included are some of the dances of which the public knows little or nothing about.

But the true secret of the success of this movie is that it discusses historical events that embrace contemporary morality.

An action film whose protagonists are women who — for the first time in ancient history — have a voice and a role that goes beyond the usual wife and mother is an absolutely captivating plot. It is also a superb cinematographic product.

I’m pretty sure that for those who like battles, blood, and action this movie will be appreciated. For the rest of the population that turn up their nose in front of too much fighting can still enjoy the movie overall because of the context story and a little bit of romance. But you’ll probably find it to be a bit too long-winded.

The historic setting has been highly criticized by the audience for being imprecise and vague, but if the result is a good movie as it is. I guess some inaccuracies can be forgiven.