The Woman King and Anikulapo

By Bayo Adeyinka

I saw The Woman King last Sunday after reading a few reviews. The movie was exciting from start to finish. It was interesting to watch a part of our history. The Woman King is the true definition of the word ‘epic’.

The cast interpreted their roles brilliantly and Viola Davis, John Boyega and Jimi Odukoya were simply outstanding. Viola was particularly intense in her delivery. Every scene was filled with the passion of her character. This may be her best yet.

Thuso Mbedu starring as Nawi is however peak of the pack. She delivered her role flawlessly and seemed to have an unusual chemistry with Viola Davis. Everyone who was in that movie deserved to be there.

The movie paid attention to details and I had to ask my wife to look at the arrangements of the cowrie shells on the protective uniforms of the palace guards. The fight scenes were well choreographed.

The only slight drawback was the different kind of accents flying all over the place but this is not enough to take away the brilliant movie that The Woman King is.

Since the location is Dahomey (part of the present day Republic of Benin but was under the rule of Oyo Kingdom then), more efforts should have been made to properly curate that African accent of the Yoruba type by the cast. Will certainly want to see this movie again.

Anikulapo is a big reason to celebrate the coming of age of Nollywood. From the cinematography to the storyline, it was captivating and brilliantly told. When I saw it was inspired by Baba Yemi Elebuibon, I knew the movie will be both intriguing and deeply philosophical.

Baba Yemi Elebuibon is of the ‘Ifa Olokun Asoro Dayo’ fame- that was a series we watched while growing up on NTV, Ibadan.

I mentioned to someone that Baba Elebuibon will almost want to convert you to an Ifa devotee by his persona, teachings and way of life.

He is responsible for removing the mysticism around Ifa Oracle and democratizing same through the theatre. His combination with the wizardry of Kunle Afolayan’s cinematography rubbed off on the movie.

I love the special effects- very believable and almost real. The set was really outstanding and I can imagine the work that went into putting the set up. The pottery scene was really good.

It was interesting to see many A list Yoruba actors in the same movie- from Baba Wande, Elesho, Ogogo, Yinka Quadri, Sola Sobowale, Oga Bello, Moji Afolayan and many others.

Stand out act for me was Bimbo Ademoye who interpreted her role brilliantly. A class act. The actor who spoke for the King of Ojumo interpreted the role very well too. He brought back to memory the ancient tradition of some First Class Yoruba monarchs who don’t speak in public.

And Baba Wande, as usual, brought a lot of zest to the movie especially during the scenes showing the death of Aremo. Baba Wande is simply ageless. I don’t know anyone who could have acted that particular role better.

Kunle Remi, the lead act, was good but not exceptional. I feel he struggled on certain scenes and wasn’t too comfortable with the deep Yoruba language used in the movie. I feel the same way about Kunle Afolayan’s daughter who starred in the movie. The Yoruba was not deep enough.

One error I can’t wrap my head around is the spelling of ‘Gbongan’ as ‘Gbogan’ in the movie. I wasn’t pleased anytime that came up- maybe because of my affiliation with the town as no one appreciates the mis-spelling of one’s name especially by people who should know.

The movie editor should have done a better job. Another error is the scene where the King of Ojumo stayed with the corpse of his Aremo. That is a cultural misnomer as Yoruba Kings are not allowed to see corpses.

One question I’ve been asking since I saw the movie is why were the nude scenes introduced? Why did we have to see the full breasts of Bimbo Ademoye’s character and the buttocks of Kunle Remi’s character? For such a cultural movie in an epic setting, that was a big minus for me.

People have sex in cultural movies without it being that explicit. It was absolutely unnecessary.

The most significant aspect of the movie is the soundtrack. I’ve tried to google who made the soundtrack- sounds like Brymo- but I’ve not heard a better soundtrack on any Yoruba movie. It was surreal, fitting and absolutely captivating.

Our movies now need to graduate to a level where soundtracks are released separately. If the soundtrack of Anikulapo was released, I’ll be one of the first to purchase same.

In all, a very good movie.

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