The Underground Railroad is Amazon Prime Video’s upcoming alternate-history drama series from Oscar-winning writer/director Barry Jenkins (Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk). It’s based on Colson Whitehead’s 2016 novel of the same name, which has earned numerous prestigious awards including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the National Book Award for Fiction, and the Arthur C. Clarke Award.
While the real Underground Railroad was a secret network of abolitionists, hideaways, and routes that helped slaves escape from the South to freedom, The Underground Railroad reimagines this route in a far more literal sense, with it being an actual extensive railroad beneath the ground, complete with trains and stations.
South African actress Thuso Mbedu (Is’Thunzi, Scandal!) stars as Cora, a young woman longing for freedom from her life of slavery. When Caesar (Aaron Pierre – Krypton), a newly-arrived slave at the plantation where she lives, tells her of the Underground Railroad, she makes a desperate bid for freedom. But freedom doesn’t come easily, as she’s pursued by the relentless slave hunter Ridgeway (Joel Edgerton – Loving).
The official synopsis is as follows:
The Underground Railroad is a new series that chronicles Cora Randall’s (Thuso Mbedu) desperate bid for freedom in the Antebellum South. After escaping a Georgia plantation for the rumored Underground Railroad, Cora discovers no mere metaphor, but an actual railroad beneath the Southern soil.
However the novel’s synopsis gives us a better idea of what the story’s all about:
Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned—Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.
But the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.
Let’s take a look:
This looks like an excellent drama series – well-directed, and the performances are strong, as is the story. It’s seems subtlety surreal, and that makes me very curious about it.
What do you think?
The Underground Railroad will premiere on Amazon Prime Video on 14 May. It also stars William Jackson Harper, Will Poulter, Chase W. Dillon, Amber Grey, and Peter Mullan.
Last Updated: April 16, 2021