If there’s a single image that may have changed the entire course of the Civil War, it’s that of Gordon, or “Whipped Peter”. In 1863, he escaped enslavement in Louisiana and made his way to a Union camp in Baton Rouge. There, pictures were taken of his whip-scarred back and published in the pages of Harper’s Weekly, enflaming northerners and inspiring many blacks to join the Union cause. That story of Peter is now becoming a movie, put together by director Antoine Fuqua and star Will Smith.
Deadline reports Fuqua and Smith will teamup for Emancipation, the story of Peter’s escape from slavery and 10-day journey through the swamps to escape his captors. The true story of the image of Peter’s scarred flesh will serve as historical backdrop for what is expected to be an action flick, which is pretty much what we’d expect from Fuqua, who will direct with Smith starring.
Fuqua and Smith have been putting this together for some time, and the director talked about why the time is perfect for telling this story…
“It was the first viral image of the brutality of slavery that the world saw. Which is interesting, when you put it into perspective with today and social media and what the world is seeing, again. You can’t fix the past, but you can remind people of the past and I think we have to, in an accurate, real way. We all have to look for a brighter future for us all, for everyone. That’s one of the most important reasons to do things right now, is show our history. We have to face our truth before we can move forward.”
“It’s almost two years now from when I first read the script. It hit my heart and my soul in so many ways that are impossible to convey but I think you understand. We’re watching some of the feeling that I had, in the streets right now. There’s sadness, there’s anger, there’s love, faith and hope as well because of what I see young people doing today. They’re doing all the heavy lifting now. Black, white, brown, yellow, you name it. They’re out in the street, they’re young, and they’re standing up for their future. That’s important to see, and the most hopeful thing that I’m seeing, that they’re not going to stand for it anymore.”
Shooting is expected to begin early next year.