Friday, September 30, 2016

SRPS Movie Night: Queen of Katwe

It's been a while since I have been able to make it to a new movie on its opening day, but I made it a point to clear my schedule for today. I absolutely had to go see Queen of Katwe today! I even went to the every first showing just so I could come home and tell you all what I thought about it.

Short version: I loved it! Go see it!

Long version: Queen of Katwe is the captivating story of how Phiona Mutesi became the first female chess champion of Uganda. It's the inspirational story about how miraculous things can happen when the right people are in the right place at the right time, as well as the painfully honest accounting of exactly how much hard work and determination is required to make those miracles happen.

I honestly never thought I'd find a film about chess so compelling, but here I am raving about it online. My favorite scenes are those where Phiona is sitting across the table from someone who underestimates her, and the look she gets on her face when she knows she's going to win. It's the look of ultimate secret delight knowing they just walked into her trap, and now all she has to do is squeeze. Before the even know what's happening, she's finished the game in her head and is just waiting for real life to catch up.

Of course, this film is about more than chess. Or, more accurately, it's about how chess is a metaphor for life.
Chess is about strategy, and the best chess players are always thinking several moves ahead, weighing their options and trying to anticipate their opponent's moves. It's this type of planning that finally helps Phiona figure out how to find her way to help her family out of the the Katwe slum.

But, Queen of Katwe is more than just a feel-good story about a young girl doing something amazing. I went into the theater thinking that was the case, but left knowing a deeper truth. This is a film about the different kinds of love and support everyone needs to succeed -- the love of one's family, one's community, and one's teacher -- and how these have the power to amplify small successes and turn them into something truly spectacular.

It's Phiona's brother who introduces her to the chess group, but it's the love and support of her sister and mother who sustain her during her moments of self-doubt. Phiona's mother Harriet (superbly played my Lupita Nyong'o) loves her children and they love her. This love is never in question, and is what keeps Phiona going when she would rather quit. Her mother may not understand Phiona's passion for chess, but she knows it's important and does what she can to help her daughter succeed.

It's the way the community of Katwe surround her and celebrate her wins and embrace her after her losses that give her the strength to continue. She knows she's competing for more than just herself. Everyone is watching, hoping, and just maybe seeing a bit of themselves in her.

And it's the unwavering faith of her mentor Robert Katende guiding her through her dark moments as well as cheering her on during her joys. It's his love and dedication to Phiona and the other Pioneers of his chess club that give her the launching pad she needed to make her dreams a reality.

Queen of Katwe is a story about all of these people as well -- their stories, their hopes and dreams, and their successes. And for that I will be watching it again and again, reveling in every joyous moment.

If you like the work I do here at Self-Rescuing Princess Society,
please consider donating to my Patreon.


Post a Comment