Two slaves, Cora and Caesar (Thuso Mbedu, Aaron Pierre), escape from their Georgia owner via the mysterious Underground Railroad, pursued by a slave catcher (Joel Edgerton) and his assistant, a Black boy (Chase W. Dillon). Barry Jenkins’s adaptation of the lauded, historical novel is one of his most ambitious (some would say pretentious) projects, a limited series with poetic, gorgeous (and horrifying) visuals paired with first-rate sound design, Nicholas Britell’s brooding score and strong performances. Narratively, Jenkins loses us at times along the way, but ultimately his command of this cruel but also vivid and beautiful drama that blends fantasy with realism is undeniable.
2021-U.S. Made for TV. 585 min. Color. Created and directed by Barry Jenkins. Novel: Colson Whitehead. Cinematography: James Laxton. Music: Nicholas Britell. Cast: Thuso Mbedu (Cora Gardner), Joel Edgerton (Arnold Ridgeway), Aaron Pierre (Caesar Garner), Chase W. Dillon, William Jackson Harper, Damon Herriman… Peter Mullan.
Trivia: Originally shown in ten episodes. Co-executive produced by Jenkins and Brad Pitt.
Last word: “We shot for 116 days, and before this, the longest shoot for me was ‘Beale Street’,which was 35 days. So I’m way out of my depth. It was daunting. [But] also, as we were scouting, looking for spaces to repurpose as sets, we realized this history has been erased. These plantation houses people are getting married at, they’ve been sanitized, if not removed. So we decided to find a plot of land and build it to scale. All the sugar cane, the cotton, the shacks – we built it all.” (Jenkins, Rolling Stone)