Gina Prince-Bythewood’s New Movie, the queen of women, is a hit. Viola Davis’ historical epic, starring the historical epic, topped the box office last weekend and also received critical acclaim.
Much has also been said about the film’s approach to historical accuracy when it comes to portraying the Dahomey Kingdom’s involvement in the slave trade, which some say was minimized in the film. Here’s a good article to read if you want to learn more.
In a recent interview with Variety, Viola and her husband, Julius Tennon, who produced the film, addressed the criticism and explained why the film deviates in part from the real story of the Dahomey Kingdom.
In the interview, Viola addressed the comment by citing Gina’s perspective that “you’re not going to win an argument on Twitter” and affirming that “most of the story is fictional”.
“We entered the story where the kingdom was in motion, at a crossroads,” she said. “They were looking for a way to keep their civilization and kingdom alive. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that they were decimated.”
“Most of the story is fictionalized. It has to be.”
Julius also referred to the film as “edu-tainment,” saying, “It’s history, but we need to license it. We have to entertain people.’
“If we just told a history lesson, which we could very well do, it would be a documentary. Unfortunately, people wouldn’t be in the theaters doing the same thing we saw this weekend.”
“We didn’t want to shy away from the truth,” he continued. “History is huge and there are truths about it out there. If people want to learn more, they can explore more.”
Viola also spoke about the profound effect that The woman king has on the public.
“People are really changed emotionally,” she said. “I saw a TikTok video today of women in a bathroom of an AMC theater, and I don’t think they knew each other. They were all singing and brooding.”
“That cannot be quantified in words.”
BuzzFeed also spoke to The woman king star John Boyega on how the film discusses Dahomey’s involvement in the slave trade. “I think this movie has a very nuanced look at that time in history,” he said.
“It’s a film about self-reflection, it’s a film about trauma and it’s a film about pain. As creators, we’re here to shine a light on the reality of the world. We’re not always here to be a ”accept a whole message. Art can live in a moral or immoral space and can sometimes just shine a light on human nature, history and the reality of that conflict.”
Read BuzzFeed’s interview with John and Thuso Mbedu here.