First trailer for Will Smith’s new movie Emancipation

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A trailer for Will Smith’s upcoming film Emancipation has been released, giving fans a first look at the actor in a challenging role.

The film follows Peter (Smith) as he embarks on a perilous journey through the Louisiana swamps to escape slavery. Hunted down by cold-blooded men, he will have to rely on his wit, faith and love for his family to make it out alive.

Directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer), the movie will debut on Apple TV+ this December.

It will mark Smith’s first release since he slapped host Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars in March. There were rumours Apple would delay Emancipation’s release, but it will go ahead on schedule and be eligible for next year’s Oscars, although Smith has been banned from the awards for ten years.

First trailer for Will Smith's new movie Emancipation

The story of the film is inspired by the 1863 series of photographs known as “Whipped Peter,” taken during a Union Army medical examination.

First appeared in Harper’s Weekly, the pictures – particularly one showing Peter’s back scourged by his enslavers’ whips – sparked outrage and ultimately contributed to growing opposition to slavery.

The cast of Emancipation is rounded out by Ben Foster (Hell or High Water), Charmaine Bingwa (The Good Fight), Gilbert Owuor (Castle, True Blood) and Mustafa Shakir (Marvel’s Luke Cage). Steven Ogg, Grant Harvey, Ronnie Gene Bivens, Jayson Warner Smith, Jabbar Lewis, Michael Luwoye, Aaron Moten and Imani Pullum also star.

On his Instagram, Smith admitted this was one of the hardest roles he’s ever taken on.

“This was the hardest movie I’ve ever made. Blood, Sweat & Tears… LITERALLY! Shoutout to Apple who doubled (and tripled) down on their commitment to deliver this epic story to the world,” the actor wrote on October 3.

First trailer for Will Smith's new movie Emancipation

Meanwhile, fans on Twitter are debating whether another film about slavery is the right way to portray Blackness on screen without it becoming trauma porn, with some convinced it is pivotal to learn from true events.

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