Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Njinga Queen of Angola (orig. Njinga Rainha de Angola) [2013]

MPAA (NR would be PG-13/R)  Fr. Dennis (4 Stars)

IMDb listing listing*

Jornal Angolano de Letras e Artes (A. Quicunga) review* (R. Nunes) review*
Diario de (R.P. Tendinha) review*
Jornal Brasil Online review* (R.N. Boneza) review 

Njinga Queen of Angola (orig. Njinga Rainha de Angola) [2013] [IMDb] [AC]* (directed by Sérgio Graciano [IMDb] [AC]* written by Joana Jorge [IMDb]) is an excellent, high quality (Portuguese language / here English subtitled) Angolan historical epic set in the late 1500s-early 1600s in what is today the Southwest African nation of Angola as the Portuguese, and most gallingly Portuguese slave traders, began to increasingly encroach on the traditional kingdoms of the region.

The film played recently as part of the 2015 (13th annual) Chicago African Diaspora Film Festival organized by ArtMattan and hosted by Facets Multimedia in Chicago.

In the film, Ngola (King) Kiluanje (played by Álvaro Miguel [IMDb]) of the then Southwest African kingdom of Ndongo [en.wikip] [pt.wikip]* the father of film's title character Njinga Mbande [en.wikip] [pt.wikip]*(played in the film by former 2008 Miss Angola beauty queen Lesliana Pereira [pt.wkip]*[IMDb] [AC]) is mortally wounded in battle against the Portuguese after refusing concessions, again above all involving the slave trade, being imposed on him by them.

The question becomes who's going to succeed Ngola Kiluanje?  The logical successor would be his son Mbande (played by Jaime Joaquim [IMDb] [AC]).  Alternatively, there's his illegitimate son Njali (played by Miguel Hurst [IMDb] [AC]) and then there is Njinga, who, though a woman, many (elders and otherwise) in the court considered the most capable anyway.

What to do, and above all for the sake of the Kingdom?  Well, that's bulk of the film ...

Njinga proves to be a very adept / wise politician.  She remains in good terms with both of her brothers.  Further, she goes to and negotiates with the Portuguese a treaty on behalf of her brother.  Discovering that it would be to her and her kingdom's advantage if she became a Christian, she gets baptized, taking the Portuguese governor's wife as her Godmother and even taking on her Godmother's name, Ana de Soaza, as her Christian name.

After her brothers' deaths, she becomes Queen of Ndongo [en.wikip] [pt.wikip]* and even of a neighboring kingdom Matamba [en.wikip] [pt.wikip]*.  Then discovering that another European power, the Dutch, were also seeking to make inroads (at the expense of the Portuguese) in the region, SHE PLAYS THEM AGAINST EACH OTHER to her advantage, SUCCEEDING in acheiving FULL INDEPENDENCE of her two kingdoms from the Europeans (not having to pay tribute to either European power) during the remainder of her reign ;-).

Njinga's [en.wikip] [pt.wikip]* was truly a quite remarkable story, and I'm happy that today's Angola  made a very nice / high quality film to tell it.  Good job folks, good job!

 * Foreign language webpages are most easily translated using Google's Chrome Browser.  

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