‘Emancipation’ Trailer Touts Will Smith’s Comeback With Intense New Footage From Slavery Drama

Apple has released the official trailer for “Emancipation,” an upcoming historical drama starring Will Smith as an enslaved man named Peter who journeys through the swamps of Louisiana to find freedom.

Directed by Antoine Fuqua, “Emancipation” marks Smith’s first film since the actor became the center of controversy after slapping Chris Rock at the Academy Awards in March. Though Smith apologized for his actions in a video posted online in June, he resigned from the Academy and has largely stayed out of the public eye since.

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The nearly three-minute trailer shows Smith’s character sprinting through marshes, fighting off an alligator and serving in the Union army with the hopes of eventually returning to his family. “I fight them. They beat me. They whip me. They break the bones in my body more times than I can count,” Smith says in an emotional monologue. “But they never, never break me.”

According to “Emancipation’s” official synopsis, 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.” The clip offers the first glimpse of the film’s recreation of the photo, with Smith as Peter revealing his scarred back to a camera as the trailer fades to black.

Written by William N. Collage, the film is produced by Smith and Jon Mone on behalf of Westbrook Studios, Joey McFarland on behalf of McFarland Entertainment and Todd Black on behalf of Escape Artists. Fuqua also served as executive producer, alongside Chris Brigham, James Lassiter, Heather Washington, Cliff Roberts, Glen Basner and Scott Greenberg.

“Emancipation” will premiere in theaters on Dec. 2 and on Apple TV+ Dec. 9. Watch the full trailer below.

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