Saturday, December 2, 2023
Homeentertainment'African Queens: Njinga' Review: Jada Pinkett Smith's Striking Netflix Documentary Hybrid Will...

'African Queens: Njinga' Review: Jada Pinkett Smith's Striking Netflix Documentary Hybrid Will Leave You Wanting More

Watching African Queens: Njinga feels like bingeing a biopic and then running to Google to see how much of it actually happened – except you don’t have to wait till the end Get the facts, you don’t need to rely on questionable search results for solid answers. The Netflix series is a documentary that plays out like an epic drama, interweaving expert interviews with carefully scripted scenes.

A slight downside to this approach is that the series doesn’t dig as deep as one would expect from an extensive documentary series or prestige miniseries; it’s less thoroughly analyzed than the introductory course . But that’s the point: “It’s time for us all to know her name,” executive producer Jada Pinkett Smith

declares in the opening voiceover . In this regard, African Queens: Njinga succeeds with a stellar performance.

Queen of Africa: Njinga

Bottom line A crowd pleaser documentary that plays like an epic drama.

Air date: Wednesday, Feb. 17 (Netflix) 17 Throwing: Ade Suwaoni Executive Producer: Jada Pinkett Smith, Miguel Melendez, Terence Carter, Sahara Bushue , Jane Root, Maxine Watson, Ben Goold

As indicated by the colon in the title, African Queens : Njinga is just the first installment in an ongoing series that will focus on different female rulers from across the continent. With very few exceptions (such as Cleopatra, planned as the subject of a second season), most Americans are probably unfamiliar. In light of this, African Queens – like last year’s The Woman King – is as much about the Eurocentric narrative that dominates Western understanding The long overdue correction of world history and is a much-needed fresh injection of subject matter for the entertainment industry, which has retold the stories of Elizabeth I or Anne Boleyn countless times.

As a prologue to such an endeavor, Njinga’s story is unparalleled. Queens of Africa In the 17 early century Ndongo (now part of modern-day Angola) in particularly difficult period; the Portuguese’s insatiable appetite for slaves had been encroaching on the territory for decades. In four 17 minute chapters, the series charts Njinga’s straight path from beloved princess to fierce leader as she I am also known for my skills as a fighter and diplomat. Her extraordinary achievements in the face of European powers still mark her as an enduring symbol of Angola’s independence, making her an easy heroine to root for.

That’s not to say that African Queens completely glosses over the less delicious aspects of her biography. Interviewees deal with conversations surrounding Njinga’s personal involvement in the slave trade, for example, one of them is careful to point out that “there is no perfect solution in this period because slavery is so pervasive,” while another patiently describes Njinga’s slavery type. Families would grow up in the more degrading forms of chattel slavery practiced by Europeans. Rumors that Njinga committed cannibalism or cannibalism were treated with similar caution. Talkers delivered their insightful opinions, but the questions — centuries after her death and at this point neither provable nor disprovable — ultimately remained open.

But African Queens primarily paints a likable, inspiring portrait of Njinga – and an indelible one at that, This is thanks to a brisk storytelling emotion that balances factual authority with vividness. While the hybrid format may take some getting used to, it ultimately proves to be an asset rather than a hindrance. The show’s charismatic roster of experts—including the usual academics and historians, but also closer personalities such as Queen Diambi Kabatusuila of the Bakwa Luntu people or Rosa Cruz e Silva, former director of the National Commission for the Angola Archives— — Frees the script part from the burden of unwieldy exposition. It is they that provide relevant background on Njinga’s cultural traditions, or the growing rivalry between the Portuguese and the Dutch, or the reasons for Njinga’s adoption of Christianity. Make sure we don’t see Njinga as a historical abstraction (as many biopics and biographies have portrayed their subjects), but as a human being of flesh and blood. It’s one thing to hear about the Queen’s intimacy with her sisters or her pain over the murder of her young son; it’s quite another to watch those intense feelings play out before our eyes. Actor Adesuwa Oni steers the screen with a confidence befitting the legendary royal. Her Njinga can chill an enemy’s blood with a grim smile, or disarm a potential lover with her sensuality—or soften us with a display of vulnerability.

Oni is so attractive, in fact, I found myself wishing more than once that she would be allowed to host, say, a Game of Thrones style drama about Ndongo’s politics, not the highlights of her life. It is at moments like these that the inevitable limitations of African Queens‘, as a broad overview rather than a deep dive, are most acutely felt.

Still, arguably, this in itself may just be further evidence of its validity: if a little frustrating, the project only seems to touch on Njinga as a true ruler or Narrative complexity surfaces as a fictional heroine’s potential only because it makes such a convincing case for her appeal.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Featured NEWS