It can only get better if Queen Bey injects this sad excuse for a summer with a dose of her legendary creative vision that is brought to life with the necessary companions.
Beyoncé’s new visual album. As always, when it comes to Beyoncé’s visual projects, this will be event TV for the streaming era – an exclusive Disney product that can keep up if not in streaming numbers, then at least in cultural terms.
This is followed by Beyoncé’s work as Nala in Disney’s CGI Lion King remake, released exactly one year ago on July 31, 2019 and written, produced and directed by the star. On the IMDb side of the film, Beyoncé is the only cast member currently listed. Other cast members include Lupita Nyong’o, Kelly Rowland, Pharrell Williams and Naomi Campbell, as well as the star’s husband, Jay-Z, and their daughter Blue Ivy.
All we really know about the film so far is what we saw in the trailers. It wasn’t shown anywhere else until it appears on Disney’s streaming service later this week.
What we do know is that Black Is King is based on the music from Beyoncé’s 2019 album The Lion King: The Gift – a kind of alternative soundtrack for the film – and was produced by their own production company Parkwood Entertainment over 2000 last year . We know from the trailer and the description that it is a story-driven film that examines topics such as identity, strength and race and draws lessons directly from the Lion King.
The plot appears to follow the journey of a boy “shaped in the heat of the galaxy”. There are some references to the parallels to the Lion King in the trailer, including the lines: “I’m laughing at the danger” and “Run away and never return”. Both are lifted directly from the source material.
Black Is King also seems to be a visual feast – a mixture of film styles and different settings, all of which are linked by Beyoncé’s distinctive soundscape. In an Instagram post, Beyoncé described it as a “passion project” and “love work”.
“With this visual album, I wanted to showcase elements of black history and African tradition, with a modern twist and a universal message, and what it really means to find your identity and build a legacy,” said the star.
She added that she had spent a lot of time deepening the teachings of past generations and the rich history of various African customs. In a trailer she reads Robert Farris Thompson’s book Black Gods and Kings, published in 1971, which records the art history of Yoruba in Nigeria.
Beyoncé is no stranger to selecting and recognizing certain elements of the black tradition in her work. In her 2019 Netflix film Homecoming, the star honored historically black colleges and universities in her Coachella set. Likewise, in her visual album Lemonade 2016, one of the main themes was the historical influence of slavery on the love and relationships of black people.
But not everyone is convinced that Beyoncé’s vision will succeed. A number of black feminist critics have questioned whether the film appropriates and connects African cultures by relying too heavily on the tropics, but without depicting all black identities.
The same critics acknowledge that their early judgments are based on a trailer of less than two minutes and have expressed their willingness to give Black Is King a chance. These early responses to the trailer suggest that this blackness exploration by one of the leading black artists of our time will form the basis for an intense discussion about identity, race, and culture in the coming days and weeks.
Beyoncé’s partnership with Disney also goes beyond this one film, so we can expect more to come from the star. In the meantime, check out oursand a very happy Bey day to everyone for Friday.