Barry Jenkins Unveils Trailer For New Series ‘Underground Railroad’

On Monday (January 25), Oscar-winning filmmaker Barry Jenkins dropped the trailer for his new series Underground Railroad

The series is an adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Underground Railroad published in 2016. 

The novel is based on the true story of the web of networks that aided the escape of enslaved African people in the South. Jenkins’ show will be released exclusively on Amazon Prime Video. 

The new, one-minute trailer gave fans a brief peak into the world Jenkins is creating on the screen. The trailer, entitled “In Aeternum” which means “forever” in Latin, plays in reverse. 

According to IndieWire, who interviewed Jenkins, composer Nicholas Britell was tapped for the project. Britell also led composition on the soundtracks for Jenkins' Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk.

“I said to Nick, is there a way to compose with chords that have the same feelings, same energy, the same power in reverse as they do play forwards,” Jenkins said to the outlet. 

The series’ main character “Cora Randall” is played by budding actress Thusa Mbedu. Fans who haven’t read the book might not be sure what’s going on in the brief trailers, but Jenkins says there’ll be much more to uncover in the show. 

“I’ve been trying to figure out how to describe the show, and I think you can’t describe all of it in one, because from state to state, the tone of the show and the journey shift... It’s almost as though Cora is manifesting each new world she’s entering.” 

Some potential backlash Jenkins might face is the beautification of the horrors of slavery in America, but the director says that perspective is narrow: 

“In the question, we assume that slaves did not know what love felt like, they did not know what community felt like, they did not know what joy felt like, and I think when you do that, you sort of rob them of their subconscious, which I think had to be robust, and likely was even more robust than ours to endure such physical degradation, and yet still preserve enough joy, love, family, community, that you and I could exist.” 

There is some imagery, though, the director warned, that is “quite barbaric.”

“There are people saying ‘Oh, there’s another project about slavery’, but I think when you say that, we sort of reduce the humanity of the people who were enslaved, and we assume that the condition of slavery reduced these people to one experience.” 

Those who want to watch the show can expect it to come out sometime this year. 

Photo: Getty Images

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