Watch the New Teaser for The Underground Railroad

Though there’s still no release date for Barry Jenkins’ much-anticipated adaptation of The Underground Railroad, there is a new teaser for the show—a slow, eerie glimpse of scenes that run entirely backwards.

Titled “In Aeternum”—”Forever”—the clip is also scored with a piece of music that plays backward. In an interview with IndieWire, Jenkins explained that he asked If Beale Street Could Talk composer Nicholas Britell, “Is there a way to compose with chords that have the same feelings, same energy, the same power in reverse as they do play forwards?” The idea, Jenkins explained, came from his emotional response to working on the show—the way he kept “unseeing” images from the series.

Here is a link to the trailer:

The Underground Railroad is based on Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel in which the concept of the Underground Railroad is made literal. Here’s the publisher’s summary:

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.

In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, 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.

Like the protagonist of Gulliver’s Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey—hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre–Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.

The teasers released so far give little detail about the show’s narrative, but are mesmerizing and beautiful—as should be no surprise from the director of Moonlight. The Underground Railroad is expected to stream on Amazon sometime this year.


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