Will Smith has dominated global headlines over the past year for less than desirable reasons. However, this time, Smith’s name is bearing recognition for his starring role in the upcoming Antoine Fuqua film “Emancipation.”
“Emancipation” is a film backed by Apple Studios that tells the story of Louisiana native and slave by Baton Rouge Gordon, who became famously known by the moniker “Whipped Peter.”
John “Whipped Peter,” who had endured the atrocities of a severe beating, risked his life to join the Union army. It was during a physical examination that the horrifying welts which stretched across his body were uncovered. The photo of those lashes became a sobering but significant marker of the brutalities of slavery. According to history.com, “Peter’s back became one of the most widely circulated images of slavery of its time, galvanizing public opinion and serving as a wordless indictment of the institution of slavery.”
Smith as “Whipped Peter”
In “Emancipation,” Will Smith takes on the role of the historical figure. Smith admits that in the past, he had reservations about participating in films focused on the institution of slavery. Smith’s rationale was,
“I never wanted to show us like that.”
However, when this film came along, it transformed Smith’s thinking. Smith’s acceptance of the role had little to do with the context of slavery but with whom Gordon represents in the context of history. As Smith explains, the film’s theme has a much broader context than the suffering of a people. In Smith’s words,
“This is a film about freedom…about resilience. This is a film about faith.”
The “Emancipation” Trailer
The recent release of the stirring trailer provides just a glimpse of what audiences can expect. The trailer shows Smith as Gordon on the run from slavers as he makes his way to a union camp through hell and high water.
But, while Smith takes the lead, it will not be Smith alone that will turn this film into a riveting watch. So, rounding out the cast of the gripping film are Ben Foster, Steven Ogg, and Charmaine Binwah.
The Oscars has effectively banned Smith due to his altercation with Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars. However, the ban does not disqualify Smith for an Oscar nomination, and the gravity of the role makes a nomination a real possibility for Smith.
The “Emancipation” filming took place before the Oscars. But the circumstances surrounding the incident delayed the release of the film.
However, according to more recent updates, “Emancipation” is now set to premiere on December 9th on the Apple+ platform. And for those who so desire, the film will premiere on December 2nd in national theatres.
Written by: Renae Richardson
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