Movie Review: Elesin Oba, The King’s Horseman

Elesin Oba: The King's Horseman

Hello fam, how are you doing? Trust you had a fulfilled week and the weekend is ‘weekending’ at your end. It’s about time for a movie review and the movie in focus today is not just a movie, in simple English, it’s a work of art. Let’s review Elesin Oba: The King’s Horseman, by EbonyLife Films you’re welcome!

The movie Elesin Oba: The King’s Horseman is a screen adaptation of the original drama text written by Prof. Wole Soyinka in 1975.  According to the Noble Laureate, the play is based on real-life events that took place in the old Oyo Empire, Nigeria in 1946 though the writer made some changes in terms of details, sequence, and characterization of acts. With the fore mentioned, it’s understandable when the movie began with Wole Soyinka’s quote “Death and the King’s Horseman can be fully realized only through an evocation of music from the abyss of transition.”

Elesin Oba: The King’s Horseman, is a linear storyline movie that displays the beautiful weave of different indigenous dramatic elements(song, dance, poem ritual) to portray and preserve one of the sacred features of the Yoruba culture. The movie began with a textual epilogue in order to convey the background story to the viewers. It tells us of the Yoruba tradition that when a king died, it is traditionally necessary that one of his chiefs known as the Elesin Oba will kill himself in order to accompany the king on death’s walk.

However, the Elesin Oba in this movie was an overt lover of life and its pleasures,  this got him attracted to an already betrothed virgin. He disclosed his interest to Iyaloja who unknown to the Elesin Oba was the mother of the to-be husband of the virgin. The Iyaloja, who was not alien to Elesin’s gregarious means implored him to focus on his soon-to-be journey with the dead king rather than lustful worldly pleasure. The Elesin Oba insisted on satisfying his uncanny desire and Iyaloja in a bid to satisfy his last wish before death, arranged for the marriage and consummation between the Elesin Oba and the virgin the same night Elesin Oba was meant to die in accompaniment of the dead king.

After satisfying his sexual desires, the Elesin Oba was ready to travel in death with the king but his uncanny ways engendered a disruption that the white man for lack of understanding of the Yoruba tradition implemented the disruption that the viewers regarded as the cause of Elesin Oba’s failure. Taking a hind view, I will say that Elesin Oba’s uncanny desires were the cause of his failure. The white man’s show-up and disruption was simply an offshoot of the delay even in the realm of the spirit that the Elesin Oba had caused while he had sexual affair instead of dying that same night.

Iyaloja said, “Elesin Oba, you’ve always had eyes on women” and when Olunde arrived at the village, his conversation with the friend explained better;

“There’s a wedding tonight? Olunde’s friend said to Olunde “You know your father better” Olunde in further amazement asked rhetorically “He’s getting married? Tonight?”.

A scene that hit me in this movie was the misunderstanding scene when Elesin Oba saw his son, Olunde with the white men after he was forcefully interrupted from his ritual rites of death. The old man thought that his son betrayed him to the whites and that instigated the ritual disruption. Meanwhile na baba do himself.

Now, the movie gets confusing to the viewers when the Chief, a man who obviously couldn’t speak English was communicating with the White man who also couldn’t speak Yoruba. While this may not be satisfactory to some people, I figured both men because they’ve been cohabiting in the same region for years, clearly understood the words that each person spoke but they could not speak the language.  Now, further questions pop up “So, the white man understood the deep-rooted Yoruba analogies and proverbs by both Elesin oba and Iyaloja too ?” Maybe someone else or the movie producers have a better explanation for this…

However, I believe the movie ended in alignment with the original text written by Wole Soyinka because as stated by the movie producers, this movie was a direct adaptation of the drama text. More so, watching till the end and reading Wole Soyinka’s advice to the play’s producer “Direct his vision instead to the far more difficult and risky task of eliciting the play’s threnodic’s essence” helped to understand that the movie’s producers artistically matched the playwright’s original intentions for his work of art.

Art is subjective, however, it is clear that the movie, Elesin Oba: The King’s Horseman is a direct adaptation of an epic drama text into a movie that helped to promote and preserve the Yoruba cultural heritage.  It is also commendable that the producers chose the road less traveled by making a movie that transcends popular culture or commercial motivation. Elesin Oba: The King’s Horseman is a literary work or art and that’s on periodttt! Not to forget, a standing ovation for the cast, every one delivered beautifully and excellently, the songs and dance mehnnn… It was good to see Brymo as the Olohun Iyo. My eyes and ears were delighted😍😍

Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I loved writing this review. Do enjoy the rest of your weekend and have a fulfilling week ahead. Je t’aime mon ami🤗🤗🤗


One Response

  1. I found it really boring unfortunately, kept on fast forwarding. No suspense, no intrigue. I admire the cultural elements but besides that there really wasn’t much to hold one’s attention.

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