On July 31 2020 Beyoncé Knowles-Carter in conjunction with Disney released ‘Black is King’ on their Disney+ streaming platform. It is no secret that I have nothing but respect and adoration for the Carter family, and ‘Black is King’ solidified that sentiment even more. The film is the pinnacle of creativity for Mrs. Carter.
I did not know what to expect going into the film in terms of content. I was pleased to be met by a Beyoncé familiarity, a visual album style of production. Aside from the composition however, this film/visual album cast’s a large shadow over Beyoncé’s other body’s of work that fall under this category.
‘Black is King’ coupled with ‘Disney’s The Lion King’ live action movie (which also featured Beyoncé) and ‘The Lion King: The Gift’ album performed by Beyoncé, all feel like one cohesive body of work. ‘Black is King’ is the third part of the trilogy that we did not know we needed.
The artistry was truly captivating and inspiring. The feeling and original intent of each song came through with distinct clarity while still leaving room for imagination. At one point during the film Beyoncé pauses, breaks the fourth wall, and sticks her tongue out as if she knew what the audience was thinking.
The film had notable cameos from Naomi Campbell, Kelly Rowland, Shawn Jay-Z Carter, Pharrell Williams, Lupita Nyong’o, and Tina Knowles. The film went through each song on ‘The Lion King: The Gift’ album giving each one a unique visual component. There were also interludes from ‘Disney’s The Lion King’ weaved throughout the film.
This film was jam-packed with art. Beyoncé also added narration throughout the film as a museum tour guide would provide insight on various art pieces. In an effort not to spoil the film all I can say is Beyoncé has yet again demonstrated artistry at the highest level. Let alone the opportunity, the sheer ability to be able to tap into one’s own creative well at such a deep place is awe inspiring.
This film motivated me to reach deeper into the reserves of my own creativity. The film definitely had something for everyone, but it is more than upfront in stating its target audience.
‘Black is King’ is as its title suggests, a film dedicated to uplift and edify the black community. It depicts a story that possibly could only be told in this format, as it resonates with the essence of the black soul:
Lost with no hope of being understood by anyone, not even ourselves.
Throughout the film Beyoncé encourages the black community to dig deep and reflect specifically on their spirituality. She encourages us that we are born kings and queens with our own story to tell. And that we cannot allow anyone else to tell that story for us, because our narrative comes from within.
‘Black is King’ is a powerful film with a powerful message, however, it does concern me, that being black does not become the new fad. Being black is ‘in’ right now in Hollywood, and has been since Black Panther, another Disney film. Not to disparage Beyoncé because I do not think she or Jay-Z would allow themselves to be used, but rather to bring attention to intentionality.
As a community, black people have long been taken advantage of for their economic influence. So while this movie is great for what it is, it also shines light on the value of ownership on both a physical and metaphysical level. It is not enough that ‘Black is King’, but black people must also operate as such.
I give this film a strong recommendation and encourage you to check it out and formulate an opinion for yourself. That is the best part about art and creativity; we all are aloud to feel how we choose regardless of the artist’s original intent.
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