THE WOMAN KING: A lesson on worldbuilding in screenwriting. #SpoilerAlert
First, let's define "world." By world, we mean physical location like Earth, Mars, Texas, France. Or time period like 2020, 1920, 3020. Or even industry like fashion, advertising, football. Change any of the above in your story and the rules of the world change.
WOMAN KING takes place during a time and within a culture that most of us are unfamiliar with, which means the writer has to teach us the rules of this place in order to follow the story.
How does one do that? Via an expert of the world/a mentor character or a fish out of water/a new person in the world. WOMAN KING gives us both. Nansica is our expert. Our teacher. Our leader. We learn a lot from her by watching her abide by the rules. Nawi is our fish out of water. Because she is new to the Agojie, she can ask dumb questions and the audience can receive the answers.
Both of these women are our protagonists. Both have goals, trials and errors, and stakes. We can consistently track their storylines leading through the climax and to the resolution. They lead us through this world.
-- Tone: Expected BRAVE HEART or THE GLADIATOR and received Disney presents THE WOMAN KING. It was very light. Very family friendly.
-- Stakes: We learned 2 rules that didn't pay off. 1. No interaction with men. Nawi had all of the interaction, even through a fence in front of people, with no consequences. 2. Agojie are not allowed to have children. Nansica finds out her child, a product of r*pe by our antagonist, is alive. The expectation would then be that no one can find out or she could lose her status and opportunity to be woman king. But it was never used as stakes for her decision to become a mother to her now adult daughter.
-- Malik's storyline, the half-Spaniard, felt as if the producers needed a character with a close proximity to whiteness to be on the "good" side. Without him, our story stands.
-- Laughed out loud every time John Boyega came on screen. What in the Super Fly... 🤣 This also lightened the tone.
The actors were fantastic. Kudos to Thuso Mbedu who isn't being talked about enough IMO.
What say you?
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