Emancipation Teaser: Will Smith Leads A Stunning-Looking Film Directed By Antoine Fuqua

The first preview for the Will Smith-led Apple TV+ film "Emancipation" is here, and it frankly looks so stunning, I couldn't help but let out a reverent "wow" after it ended. With a December streaming release date and a likely theatrical run set a week earlier, the movie seems poised to factor into award season conversations, even after earlier reports stated that its release date might be impacted by factors including Smith's actions at this year's Oscars.

Regardless, with just under two minutes to make its case, the Antoine Fuqua film that ended up at Apple after a major bidding war already looks to be super cinematic, drenched in tension, and overall, appears to be a film that shouldn't be missed.

Watch the Emancipation trailer

The official synopsis for "Emancipation" is simple: "An enslaved man embarks on a perilous journey to reunite with his family in this powerful film inspired by a true story." But that familiar premise comes alive in the teaser, which gives a captivating look at the film that's so visually rich, it's hard to tell that it's devoid of almost all color. The trailer starts with a drop of blood on a leaf in a de-saturated shot that's timed to a snapping sound in the score. The entire sound design of the trailer is really interesting, with some voices seeming to have an echo effect while others don't.

The "Emancipation" trailer revels in the slow reveal: First, it show's Smith's face, but he's not immediately recognizable as a man who attempts to escape slavery and take refuge with the Union Army. Later, we see him with tattered clothes, wearing longer-than-usual hair and a look of wary exhaustion as shares the news of the Emancipation Proclamation. Smith's credit on-screen comes later, after another deliberately paced bit of information: The "directed by" title card lingers before revealing that it's Fuqua, director of "Training Day" and "The Equalizer," behind the camera.

Fuqua isn't the only person making "Emancipation" look so great: Robert Richardson, who has won Academy Awards for his work on "JFK," "The Aviator," and "Hugo," is director of photography on the striking project. The rest of the teaser shows Smith's character, Peter, plotting the course for his escape — a five-day journey that involves a dangerous swamp, dogs and men pursuing on horseback, and a destination that seems to offer little but war.

"Emancipation" will premiere in theaters on December 2, 2022, and will stream on Apple TV+ beginning December 9, 2022.