Gina Prince-Bythewood’s movies are known for their rich character analysis, and she proved it again in the period action drama The Woman King. The epic Africa-set movie is led by none other than Academy winner Viola Davis.
The Woman King follows an army of women warriors called the Agojie, also reportedly the same group that inspired Black Panther’s Dora Milaje. Their mission is to defend the kingdom of Dahomey from slave traders. Viola Davis plays General Nanisca, under the command of King Ghezo, portrayed by John Boyega. The women live and train to become the fiercest warriors.
The Woman King: Untold Stories Of The Past
The concept was proposed by Davis, saying that Prince-Bythewood was so moved she wept after hearing the story. “When a director has that level of passion and vulnerability for the work, they’re going to treat it as their child. I understood that this was Gina’s magnum opus in the room,” Davis said in an interview with New York Times.
Prince-Bythewood revealed in the interview that she found out Davis was preparing to do a movie that focuses on women warriors about five years ago. They approached her, but the script was not yet available. During the time, the director was on another project, so she told them to come back when they already had the script. They did.
At the time it was finished, Black Panther just came out, and Prince-Bythewood recalled that the Dora Milaje is based on real-life women warriors. She read the script, and five pages in, she decided to take on the project.
“It was just excitement, excitement, excitement because the story was entrenched in truth and a specific war that happened at a specific time, then led to a bigger war against colonizers. The more I learned about them, the more I got excited about putting this incredible culture — and us — onscreen in a way that we haven’t been able to see ourselves.”
Audience Reactions To The Woman King
Fans are celebrating the film as it is another giant leap of progress towards diversity and inclusivity in Hollywood. As a work of art with an almost all-Black cast and women in the lead, it represents a historical event that the world needs to know about.
Here are some of the best Twitter reactions about The Woman King:
OMG! I just saw The Woman King & it was INCREDIBLE! @violadavis was *amazing* as well as all of the other actresses! See it! See it! See it! Great fighting scenes too. The last time I felt like crying at the end of a movie it was during Black Panther 👏🏾✊🏾 pic.twitter.com/XBT7DSKM4D
— Mikki Devine (@mikdev) September 15, 2022
‘The Woman King’ is an epic masterpiece unlike any film you’ve seen before with its gorgeous visuals, action, honesty + representation. It will stir your soul, give you chills + make you cheer on every last one of these magnificent female characters. #TheWomanKing pic.twitter.com/mBU8SbRYrZ
— Nikki Fowler (@NikkiFowler28) September 10, 2022
#TheWomanKing is an instant classic. Beautiful & Badass, Viola Davis slays as always. Lashana Lynch is incredible, Sheila Atim is amazing, & Thuso Mbedu steals the show as the heart/soul of the entire film! Blythewood created an epic that we don’t see anymore from Hollywood. pic.twitter.com/MsaVtzMS0X
— Zach Pope (@popetheking) September 10, 2022
The Woman King features an admirable women-led cast, and the intriguing plot honors the heritage of the characters. Note that the Agojie spoke in English with a particular accent to make it easier for the audience to follow the narrative. As Viola Davis said in her tweet, “This is my magnum opus. I’ve never had a role like this before, it’s been one of the most transformative experiences of my life.”