‘Emancipation’ Trailer: Will Smith Runs Towards Freedom In New Drama From Antoine Fuqua

It’s unfortunate that Emancipation, the Apple film by Will Smith and director Antoine Fuqua, has seemingly been hobbled by the actor’s slapping of Chris Rock. We don’t know how it will ultimately be received, but it’s clear that all of the work that went into the slavery drama will take a backseat.

As seen in the new trailer, Smith looks at the top of his game as Peter, a slave who makes the dangerous journey north to find his freedom. The film is based on the true story of “Whipped Peter”, a slave who became a national figure after photographs of his scarred back was published.

Smith is joined by Ben Foster, Charmaine Bingwa, Gilbert Owuor, Mustafa Shakir, Steven Ogg, Grant Harvey, and more.

Reports from early screenings have been positive, so fingers crossed that Emancipation gets a fair break when it opens in theaters on December 2nd. That will be followed by Apple TV+ on December 9th.

“Emancipation” tells the triumphant story of Peter (Smith), a man who escapes from slavery, relying on his wits, unwavering faith and deep love for his family to evade cold-blooded hunters and the unforgiving swamps of Louisiana on his quest for freedom. The film is inspired by the 1863 photos of “Whipped Peter,” taken during a Union Army medical examination, that first appeared in Harper’s Weekly. One image, known as “The Scourged Back,” which shows Peter’s bare back mutilated by a whipping delivered by his enslavers, ultimately contributed to growing public opposition to slavery.


Travis Hopson
Travis Hopson has been reviewing movies before he even knew there was such a thing. Having grown up on a combination of bad '80s movies, pro wrestling, comic books, and hip-hop, Travis is uniquely positioned to geek out on just about everything under the sun. A vampire who walks during the day and refuses to sleep, Travis is the co-creator and lead writer for Punch Drunk Critics. He is also a contributor to Good Morning Washington, WBAL Morning News, and WETA Around Town. In the five minutes a day he's not working, Travis is also a voice actor, podcaster, and Twitch gamer. Travis is a voting member of the Critics Choice Association (CCA), Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), and Late Night programmer for the Lakefront Film Festival.