Will Smith stars in Emancipation, now streaming on Apple TV+. Smith plays a slave who undertakes a dangerous and gruelling escape from captivity, who was later photographed and became the face of the growing emancipation movement. Here’s how to watch the new film.
Emancipation is one of Apple’s biggest original film efforts to date, having acquired the project in 2020 in a deal reportedly worth in excess of $100m. Actor Will Smith has previously rejected making ‘a slave movie’, but said he accepted the lead role in this project as it is focused on a ‘story about freedom’. Production on the movie wrapped last year, with awards aspirations in sight.
However, Smith’s public outburst at the Oscars, involving the televised slap incident, complicated matters. For a while, it was unclear whether Emancipation would come out at all. But Apple has committed to a 2022 release as originally planned, even if its chances on the awards circuit are highly diminished.
What is Emancipation about?
Emancipation is set in 1863. President Lincoln would formally free the slaves with a proclamation at the beginning of that year, but it would take months for the news to travel and the order accepted by all states in the US. Peter (Smith’s character) is still living life as a slave, being subjected to daily cruelties.
Peter embarks on a dangerous journey to escape his captor, and return to his family. This involves wading through the Louisiana swamps. He eventually links up with the Union Army.
He would later become known as ‘Whipped Peter’, when a photo was widely circulated depicting his severely scarred back from the lashings, which helped to accelerate the shift in culture away from slavery. The film’s narrative is fictional, but inspired by those photographs.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua, Emancipation stars Will Smith alongside Ben Foster and Charmaine Bingwa. The cinematography uses a highly desaturated color palette, nearing a black and white look. The film premiered December 2 in a limited theatrical run, and debuts worldwide on Apple TV+ from December 9.
How to watch Emancipation
Emancipation is available exclusively on the Apple TV+ streaming service. Apple TV+ costs $6.99 per month and includes access to Apple Original TV shows and movies. If you haven’t used Apple TV+ before, you can get a seven day free trial here. TV+ is also included as part of the Apple One bundle.
To watch Emancipation, open the Apple TV app on your device and go to the Apple TV+ tab. The TV app is available on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV set-top box, Mac, smart TVs, Amazon Fire Stick, Roku Stick, PlayStation, Xbox games consoles, Comcast Xfinity, and more devices. If you have an Android phone or Windows PC, you can also watch in a web browser at tv.apple.com.
Alongside Emancipation, Apple TV+ includes hits like comedy Ted Lasso and sci-fi workplace drama Severance. Anthology series Little America also premieres its second season today. See everything you can watch on Apple TV+ here.
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