EMANCIPATION (2022) – My rating: 8.5/10

Emancipation Release Poster.jpgEmancipation is a historical action film directed by Antoine Fuqua and produced by Joey McFarland. The film, written by William N. Collage, is loosely based on the real-life story of Gordon (named “Peter” in the film), a former slave, and the photographs of his bare back, heavily scourged from an overseer’s whippings, that were published worldwide in 1863, giving the abolitionist movement proof of the cruelty of slavery. Apple paid $130 million to acquire the rights to the film, outbidding several other studios. While I’m not always willing to endure the pain of watching movies that depict slavery, I wanted to see Emancipation because I wanted to support the star.

In the 1860s, an African-American enslaved man called, Peter (Will Smith) escapes from the Louisiana plantation where he was enslaved in search of freedom.  Peter escaped with several other men who were also slaves but despite the Emancipation, were still performing “work as usual”. Peter has a wife and children and was determined to come back and release them using  papers to show that they were free.  

I thought the film was befitting of the time, situation, and horrific conditions that existed during slavery.  The White hands on the plantation seemed particulary angry and hateful.  This film really didn’t present anything new except that it exposed, once again, the back of a slave that was first presented in 1863.  Emancipation is streaming on Apple TV+ after a short release in theaters. The film received mixed-to-negative reviews from critics, who liked the cinematography and action scenes but criticized the screenplay, plot, and the handling of real-life events. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 44% of 139 critics’ reviews are positive, with an average rating of 5.8/10. The website’s consensus reads, “Emancipation works as an action movie – albeit one that’s uncomfortably at odds with its awkward handling of the real-life events that inspired its stirring story.” 

FYIOn making the film, Fuqua said:

“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 … That’s important to see, and the most hopeful thing that I’m seeing, that they’re not going to stand for it anymore.”

Additionally, principal photography was expected to begin in Los Angeles, then was later set to begin on June 21, 2021, in Georgia, but on April 12, it was announced that the film would be shot elsewhere due to the recently-enacted Election Integrity Act of 2021. Smith and Fuqua said in a joint statement: “We cannot in good conscience provide economic support to a government that enacts regressive voting laws that are designed to restrict voter access.” To change the location was reported to cost approximately $15 million. Finally filming took place in New Orleans from July 12 to August 21, 2021. Emancipation was further delayed due to several positive COVID-19 tests.  I’m not sure about the events of that time but I do know the back of the slave named Gordon was true. Emancipation is streaming on Apple TV+ and is free if you have a subscription — Check It Out!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s