12/05/2017

Njinga, Rainha De Angola - Fight The Power?

Quick Thoughts: Njinga, Rainha De Angola (Njinga, Queen Of Angola) (2013)


As I'm having trouble finding and watching an Andorran film for the World Cinema Series, we are going to jump ahead to Angola. (UPDATE: film found and added to series).


This film details the legacy of Nzinga Mbande Cakombe and her reign as queen of Angola during the 17th century. Queen Nzinga, also known as Njinga (and this is how she is referred to in the film), ruled Ndongo and Matamba, both of which were kingdoms belonging to the Matamba people of Angola. Njinga's rise to leadership in 1631 was catalysed by Portuguese colonisation. Colonisation across Africa stretches far back into antiquity, but by the late 1400s The Portuguese had reached Angola with intentions of establishing themselves as they already had in Congo. In such, they meant to convert the Angolans to Catholicism as well as feed their slave trade to Brazil. The Portuguese colonisation, however, was slow, remaining confined to the coast during the 16th century. But, it's in the latter half of the era that this film focuses on. In such, we see the Portuguese attempt to subjugate and secure Angola perturbed by The Portuguese Restoration War, meaning conflicts with the Dutch, English, French and, in Angola, Njinga's people.

Njinga, Rainha de Angola then goes on to capture an intriguing segment of Angolan history that I knew absolutely nothing of, telling a somewhat romanticised tale of a fight against oppression.

Moving away from the historical elements and judging this movie as a film unto itself, Njinga, Rainha de Angola is a well-made film with great camera work, but sometimes inarticulate direction. In such, there are a lot of crane shots and a lot of flashy camera movement, but this is often implemented just to give a scene some sense of movement - movement which hasn't got much to do with the script. We also see this unfocused direction with the constant scenic shots inserted in between scenes. Whilst all of them were beautifully shot, capturing mesmerising landscapes, they didn't have much of a place in the story. What this demonstrates about both the editing and the direction of this film is that it doesn't work well with the script. However, the script itself, whilst it has a fascinating historical tale as a source, isn't very captivating. This all comes down to the minimal character development, which reduces the constant expository and negotiational scenes to pretty banal and boring filler between mediocre action sequences - all of which are shot and edited incompetently with so-so stunt work--sequences which feature Miss Angola 2007, Lesliana Pereira, as our lead, Queen Njinga (say about that what you will). The most difficult challenge that this narrative then falters to face is a tonal one. In such, it never finds the right footing to tell this historical story in a captivating manner.

So, to conclude, Njinga, Rainha de Angola is a pretty much well-made film that simply doesn't have much substance as a cinematic story. With more life and character in the script, this could have been much more investing and immersive, but, unfortunately, I've been left without much to say about this film.

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