When someone dies, it is said that they go to rest… but what if you can hold death in your pocket? *dramatic pause* …Anikulapo.
Anikulapo is a movie produced and directed by Kunle Afolayan, inspired by the works of Ifayemi Elebuibon, a notable Ifa priest and the Araba of Osogbo. The fantasy distils rich Yoruba culture in a sublime story that encompasses allegories, beliefs and heightened emotions but leaves a lot of unanswered questions.
As is our custom, we will discuss some outstanding elements from this movie.
A noteworthy plot has a fantastic story arc and plausibility even when it is a work of fiction. Anikulapo follows the story of Saro (Kunle Remi), a cloth (aso ofi) weaver who gets involved in an illicit affair with the Alaafin’s favourite wife, Arolake (Bimbo Ademoye). She elopes with him and helps him cheat death after stumbling upon supernatural powers.
Adopting Yoruba folklore, the plot conforms to the era in which the story took place. We observe elements such as power play, promiscuity, gender roles in the 1700s, monarchy, spirituality and tradition in this 142-minute-long period piece.
We see bits of recurring themes layered on one another to project a story leading with love, betrayal and revenge. It also explores the dynamics of polygamy and intrigues with more than one powerful lesson. Hell hath no fury…
The two elements of acting- multidimensional characters and convincing performances give Anikulapo a choice spot in the hearts of many viewers. Among the line-up of casts who do justice to their roles, we see a powerful blend of veterans and newbies that interpret their roles beautifully. The addition of veterans adds a touch of nostalgia for viewers.
Big ups to Bimbo Ademoye (Arolake) for taking us through a roller coaster of emotions with a sterling performance from puppy love to the bitter, forsaken wife. As usual, Sola Sobowale (Awarun) kills it as the ‘King of Boys’ with her flourishing pottery business, her way with men and her influence on her community.
Costume and Cinematography
The movie is a wonderful display of colours reminiscent of the era in which the costumes were used. The 1700s were indeed colourful times. Anikulapo scores a great point with its use of authentic colourful traditional adire which is emblematic of Yoruba culture. The women look beautiful in their adire and local hairstyles. The men are adorned in similar outfits reflective of the time. Each character and scene is appropriately adorned; from royalty to commoners, you can tell the difference in their regalia. The Mise en Scene is also a strong point for the movie, bursting with colours that depict the different moods correctly.
Location and Language
Kunle Afolayan Production recently launched the Film Resort in Oyo, which he used for the movie. This allowed him to create all the elements used in the movie’s production from scratch. The result is an amazing set design that transports you to the movie’s timeline. Although there are arguments that the dialect spoken in the movie is not of Oyo origin, we appreciate the use of our local tongue in a Netflix-backed movie.
We are totally here for the resurgence of local epics like Ayinla, King of Thieves and now, Anikulapo. We appreciate Afolayan’s latest effort with its culturally-rich storyline, star-studded cast, and availability on an international streaming platform like Netflix.
However, this movie raises a few questions – If the Akala bird is as powerful as it appears, how come it is easily scared off by a mortal with a stick? Arolake is portrayed as the King’s favourite, yet she can run away with another man without dealing with any repercussions. What are the odds? Also, does Awarun have powers? How else is she able to sense it when Saro passes away? Does the bird lose its ability to resurrect other dead people after Saro gets its power? Why does the evil forest where the dead were thrown lack an eerie feel?
Despite the plot holes, Anikulapo is an enjoyable, visually appealing, intriguing movie. It is a good watch guaranteed to create interesting conversations about greed, jealousy and the like. We can only hope that our questions are sufficiently answered in a sequel.