Hollywood movie similar to Peplum, woman king Depicts the epic Agojié, a group of warriors from Dahomey (now Benin) in the 19e century. Director Gina Prince-Bethwood is taking some liberties with the kingdom’s history and past of slavery, as historian Sylvia Serpin, author of the book asserts: The Queens of Africa and the Heroines of the Black Diaspora (MeduNeter, 2018) and co-author Women soldiers in Dahomey (“Women Recruited in Dahomey”, UNESCO Collins, 2015). But the film, stunningly shot, also brings a welcome insight into a still under-represented part of African history on screen.
The least that can be said about him woman kingDid it divide the spectators and critics .. Did you find it convincing as a spectator and as a historian?
Silvia Serpin: I really enjoyed this movie. I was pleasantly surprised to see, for the first time, a page of African history treated in this way by big-budget Western cinema. Jenna Prince-Bethwood and her teams have a great respect for sticking with reality as closely as possible. In this region of the Gulf of Guinea (Benin, Togo, Ghana and Nigeria), at 19e century, women have played an important role in society and the economy. They had great financial autonomy, a political role, and could be advisors to kings… This is a long-existing tradition, which the film recreates well in its cultural, social and hierarchical dimension.
Not without taking some liberties with the historical reality…
Of course, the movie is no exception to the Hollywood touch of goodwill, which is sometimes outdated. It’s a director’s bias. Artistic bias because it seems necessary to remember that this is not a documentary but a fiction. There is a clear interest in upholding the values of today’s onlookers, and this is done skillfully, as it also makes it possible to avoid the “indexing” of a country, Benin, for its past participation in the slave trade. .
Some critics have already criticized the film for presenting King Gezo as supportive of the anti-slavery rhetoric espoused by the heroine, General Nanska, while the Kingdom of Dahomey based its power precisely on the slave trade.
In fact, Dahomey is famous for its role in the slave trade, which King Gezo defended with teeth and nails and which his successors continued almost until the end of the 19th century.e century. It was a warlike state, and, beginning with the inland Abomey plateau, succeeded in a massive expansion to the coast, incorporating all the small kingdoms to be able to trade directly with slave traders and store weapons. However, who can know the opinion of the little ones, those who suffered firsthand from the consequences of these wars? By putting this anti-slavery rhetoric in Nanska’s mouth, the film chooses not to attribute a homogeneous hostile notion to the people of Dahomey. And I think it is not unreasonable that a part of this people has been exhausted by all these struggles and these human losses.
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