Barry Jenkins will soon follow up his latest feature films, Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk, with an ambitious television project for Amazon Prime: The Underground Railroad. The highly anticipated series, which has been teased on social media for some time, just released its first official trailer today, boasts a score from Jenkins’s frequent collaborator Nicholas Brittell, as well as a narrative reframing of slavery.
Based on Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, the series follows a young enslaved woman named Cora Randall (Thuso Mbedu) as she escapes from a Georgia plantation and tries to flee the antebellum South for freedom.
Having heard of the “Underground Railroad,” a metaphorical term used to describe the escape routes of enslaved people in the South, Cora discovers a literal railroad beneath the soil, train conductors and all, suggesting an alternate history in which people were freed by an actual rail system. While traveling the railroad, Cora flees from state to state, escaping the torture of a bounty hunter named Ridgeway (Joel Edgerton) who previously attempted to capture her mother, Mabel.
All 10 episodes of the series will be directed by Jenkins, who also executive produced the show (alongside Whitehead, as well as Brad Pitt and his Plan B Entertainment banner). Mbedu and Edgerton will be joined by Aaron Pierre, William Jackson Harper, Sheila Atim, Amber Gray, Peter De Jersey, Chukwudi Iwuji, Damon Herriman, Lily Rabe, Irone Singleton, Mychal-Bella Bowman, Marcus "MJ" Gladney, Jr., Will Poulter and Peter Mullan in the cast.
The Underground Railroad will arrive on Amazon Prime on May 14.