WATCH: The Trailer for Will Smith’s New Movie ‘Emancipation’ Slaps
While it may be tricky to remember at times, before he became known as the comedian-slapper-in-chief, Will Smith was actually a pretty well-respected actor and a big draw at the box office. Now, he’s teaming up with director Antoine Fuqua – the man behind Training Day and The Equalizer franchise – to remind people of that fact. The pair have joined forces for Emancipation, an Apple TV+ production that tells the story of a runaway slave, and a new trailer confirms both that this looks like an impressive piece of work and that it will in no way be a fun time at the movies.
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Inspired by a true story, the film follows Smith’s character, Peter, on a tortuous journey through the swamps of Louisiana in a desperate attempt to reach Abraham Lincoln’s army and escape the plantation owners that nearly killed him. Looking like a suitably grim affair, Emancipation smothers everything with a grey filter that really enhances the oppressive nature of the subject matter.
Peter’s journey is intercut with footage of the American Civil War, which was happening simultaneously to his desperate race to freedom, and by all accounts was a miserable, bloody affair that saw men slaughtered in their thousands. Trudging through the swamp, Peter appears to encounter numerous threats – as another slave points out, “There are many ways to die in a swamp” – and these include everything from muddy bogs and alligators to the slave hunters on horse with their dogs in hot pursuit.
Emancipation is scheduled to land in cinemas on December 2 and then on Apple TV+ a week later on December 9. While there’s no doubt this will not be the kind of crowd-pleasing spectacle that turned Will Smith into a worldwide superstar, it does look like the kind of serious historical epic grappling with weighty themes frequently considered “Oscar bait”. Smith himself could even have been up for another Best Actor going, if he wasn’t banned from the ceremony for 10 years following his slapping of Chris Rock that is.
You can check out the trailer above or via the link below.