The Film Comment Podcast: Barry Jenkins on The Underground Railroad

May 18, 2021

On this week’s podcast, Film Comment editors Clinton Krute and Devika Girish speak to Barry Jenkins, Oscar-winning director of Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk, about his latest project, The Underground Railroad. It’s a lush, 10-hour epic that marries Jenkins’s distinctive cinematic sensibilities with the historical fiction of Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, which imagines the underground railroad as a real-life network of trains and tunnels.

Over 10 episodes, all directed by Jenkins, the show traces the odyssey of a young enslaved woman named Cora after her escape from a plantation in antebellum Georgia. As Cora is pursued from state to state by a seemingly possessed slave catcher, Jenkins combines bracing and often brutal realism with moments of thrilling fantasy and beauty.

Film Comment sat down with Jenkins to discuss five key scenes from the series, and the ideas and intricate craft that went into each. Listeners beware! The conversation touches on crucial plot points, so if you’re averse to spoilers, please press pause and watch the series first.

 

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