A beautiful and touching story that American society has yet to experience, a director responsible for such productions as The Magnificent Seven, Until You Lose Your Power and No Mercy, and an actor who, until recently, could be called on the threshold of a brilliant career – it would seem that “Liberation” will become a pearl in the Apple catalog, deserving the most important awards. However, when the actor on whom all the attention is focused is Will Smith, things get a little more complicated … I invite you to watch the movie “Liberation”.
Slavery and racism are problems that have left their mark on the history of the United States and are undoubtedly connected with it. It is a national trauma that many are struggling to cope with, a problem that is still alive and pulsing behind every racially savage attack. The film industry does not leave history idle, trying not only to open its eyes to the harm caused by whites, but also to present slavery from the point of view of a modern nation that has already drawn some conclusions. Another opportunity to deal with the painful past of Americans is the experience of Peter, whose image, captured in 1863 after the announcement of the emancipation of the slaves by Abraham Lincoln, became a symbol of the great cruelty that blacks faced. Whipped Pete was screenwriter Bill Collage’s chance to describe a man who wanted freedom at all costs.
Liberation (2022) – movie review [Apple TV+]. “I am your God”
Peter was treated as an object and instrument from birth. Until then, he lived with his family on the cotton plantation of Captain John Lyons near the Atchafalaya River, working as a blacksmith, but one day, by agreement of the authorities, he was forcibly transported to Clinton to help build railroads – in the future, the railroad will serve as one of the main routes used by Confederate troops. On the spot, the man witnesses the incredible atrocity that the guards guarding the workers and the fugitive hunter Jim Fassel are capable of. When Peter accidentally hears that Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation will make blacks who reach Baton Rouge free, he realizes that he has no other way – before Union troops can get to him and set him free, he must reach for freedom and snatch it. from the throat of whites. So he escapes from the camp through the swamps and extremely dangerous parts of the country, and the hunters go after him.
The peer-reviewed Liberation evokes strong emotions from the first to the last minute. This is a story about a man who wanted not only to survive, but also to take freedom from a handful of whites by force. Fukua presents the story of Peter from different points of view – a victim who, having committed any deceit, wants to survive and escape from the clutches of a ruthless tyrant, a man who wants above all to free himself from the shackles of slavery, a soldier who does not fight against only for his freedom, but for his soul serenity and the opportunity to live a normal life for other African Americans. Before Peter had to say goodbye to his family, he promised his beloved Dodienne and the children that he would return and be together again. This confidence became one of the reasons to resist the unequal struggle – against the tormentors led by the merciless Fassel, and the merciless system that treated blacks as inferior creatures, less valuable than animals. Having shown great cunning, knowledge and courage, he entrusts this expedition to a god who leads him through a series of adversities. As a very God-fearing man, Peter wants to believe that someone is watching him, and his hopeless situation is just another stage of the test that a higher being is putting him through. Faith is the aspect that pushes him forward, gives him strength and increases his determination to cross the border and achieve the goal.
Liberation (2022) – movie review [Apple TV+]. “They never broke me”
And how will Will Smith cope with the role? After King Richard: The Victorious Family, it became known that he was on the wave, and his workshop and approach to subsequent roles will be an opportunity to prove himself even more. The American showed off, putting a lot of heart and truth into his creation – in any case, looking at the basis of the reviewed “Liberation”, i.e. character of one of the slaves, his work was much more important. Due to the structure of the script, which basically sees the hero struggling to survive, Smith had fewer opportunities to effectively convey pain and determination through dialogue, but his bodywork said more than enough. The character and determination of Peter, on the one hand, frighten, but also cause great admiration. With his facial expression, look and stance, the actor tried his best to convey what a huge test he had to face. His on-screen companions also coped with their task, and I can’t help but note the brilliant role of Ben Foster – he once again proved that he feels like a fish in water as a sadistic anti-hero, and his performance is one of the best. strengths of the Apple movie. The scenes where we see Smith and Foster together on screen are really good.
The reviewed Liberation is a touching, atmospheric, and painfully touching story. – adhering to a limited style, Antoine Fuqua does not play with the image (although he does not avoid numerous wide and dynamic shots of the mysterious swamps of Louisiana), but with a certain mysticism and honesty approaches the history of slaves, people who were treated with tools, deprived of basic rights and humiliated, and their tormentors, who derive pure pleasure from inflicting pain. The applied filter is in harmony with the presented world, full of suffering, violence and sacrifice – as if proving that there is little hope for this place and no chance for the rays of the sun. It is a pity, however, that the creators were tempted by many embellishments and additions to the plot, which would have given much more entertainment – Not much is known about the original story of the runaway slave, therefore, in order to make the production more coherent, the authors invented a lot, touchingly playing on emotions in places and making the main character a hero with superhuman strength. And it was enough, in accordance with the director’s intention, which he emphasized in many earlier statements, to focus on an ordinary person, a creature who wants to live in freedom and happiness.
Liberation (2022) – movie review [Apple TV+]. Will the Will Smith scandal affect production?
From the first press screenings, it was said that the film, available on Apple TV+, would have the opportunity to compete for the most important movie statuettes, but the situation during the last Oscars gala, in which Will Smith was an infamous participant, casts a shadow. over his party. In part, this is true – some now and then remind him of a memorable occasion, others remind him that many years ago he did not accept the role in “Django”, in which the topic of slavery and the status of blacks was touched upon with considerable freshness. The latest production adds a brick to the theme, though not as electrifying as the Underground Railroad series, which debuts in 2021. Despite the actor’s huge oversight, “Liberation” should not be crossed out in advance.
One can read and hear about slavery many times, but when we do not see the immensity of violence and atrocities that another person inflicts on a person, we will not understand the scale of the tragedy that occurred in the world many years ago. Fukua, guiding Will Smith, gives this violence a different face that is hard to erase from memory. Just as “Whipped Peter” touched the conscience of America, so “Liberation” will touch the modern audience. although the film regularly lashes out at a kind of showiness based on a symbol rather than a story about a person in the first place. Peter passes the next points and reaches the finish line, and we get together with him. However, from this story we can learn not only breathtaking shots, but also lessons for the future.