Moonlight director Barry Jenkins has been hard at work on his television adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad for years, and the highly anticipated series is expected to finally debut on Amazon Prime Video sometime in 2021. But while we wait for an official trailer from the streamer, Jenkins has been sharing a slow drip of clips and mini-teasers himself that are full of footage from the show, and all of them have us even more excited to see what he has up his sleeve here.
Today, Jenkins shared the most propulsive clip yet – a beautiful and stylish montage which plays out entirely in reverse. Check this out.
The Underground Railroad Clip
The name of the clip, “In Aeternum,” translates to “forever,” a word that’s obviously associated with history and finality. But Jenkins seems to have other plans in mind. “They say history is written by the victors, so…???’? ??? ?? ????,” he wrote in an accompanying caption on Twitter. And run it back he does, reversing the photography and at least temporarily erasing some of the horrors that befell Black people in this country during the days of slavery.
The show is based on Whitehead’s National Book Award-winning novel, which depicted an alternate reality in which two slaves named Cora and Caesar escape from a plantation in the southern U.S. and try to reach freedom by utilizing the Underground Railroad. (In the book, the railroad is shown as a literal rail transport system that’s supported by a network of safe houses and secret directions.) I have not read the novel yet myself, but I’m wondering if, because this series is set in an alternate reality, this clip might be showcasing things that may not actually happen in the show – almost as if Jenkins is rewinding our expectations about what a story about that period might entail and gearing up for a different take on that historical period.
Exactly how all of this footage may or may not tie into the final show remains to be seen, but again: holy shit. This footage is absolutely gorgeous, and the shot of the two characters rising up through a cave alongside that ladder took my breath away.
“The Underground Railroad is a really, really big undertaking,” Jenkins told me a few years back. “The biggest thing I’ve ever done. But I do have experience to fall back on that’s helped me through the process.” I can’t wait to see how it all comes together.
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