‘Small Axe’ Trailer: Steve McQueen Unveils Glorious Look at Five-Part Anthology Epic

One of the films, "Lovers Rock," has already debuted to wall-to-wall raves at the ongoing New York Film Festival.
Small Axe
"Small Axe"

Is it film? Is it television? Who cares! Amazon has premiered the first full trailer for Academy Award-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen’s five-part anthology series “Small Axe,” and it’s a glorious look at the director’s latest assemblage of intimate and powerful character studies. A standout entry in the anthology, “Lovers Rock,” already premiered at the New York Film Festival to wall-to-wall raves on the event’s opening night, and two of the other entries, “Mangrove” and “Red, White and Blue,” will also bow at NYFF. Watch the trailer below.

The television debut of McQueen, “Small Axe” comprises tales inspired by real-life events about ordinary people showing courage, belief, and resilience to overcome injustice and achieve something transformative in their West Indian community. Among the ensemble throughout “Small Axe,” which will begin rolling out on BBC One and Prime Video on November 20, are Letitia Wright, John Boyega, Malachi Kirby, Shaun Parkes, Rochenda Sandall, Alex Jennings, Jack Lowden, and Micheal Ward. First up to premiere is “Mangrove” (11/20), followed by “Lovers Rock” (11/27), “Education” (12/4), “Alex Wheatle” (12/11), and “Red, White and Blue.” (“Mangrove” and “Lovers Rock” were originally set to world-premiere as part of the canceled Cannes Film Festival.)

The trailer below will also air during Sunday night’s 72nd Emmy Awards telecast.

From IndieWire’s review of “Lovers Rock”: “Set across a single night in 1980 and loaded with a soundtrack from the eponymous reggae music, ‘Lovers Rock’ is a paean to an energized youth culture taking control of its surroundings, despite the social unrest around them. Experienced on its own terms, this delightful snapshot of boozy dance-floor seduction plays like an artist unleashing years of repressed good vibes by applying his lyrical style to pure, unbridled bliss for almost the entirety of its 68 minutes.

“Yes, 68 minutes! That running time speaks to the curious identity of the ‘Small Axe’ series, which McQueen has packaged as a set of films despite the episodic context of their release: Two of the five installments were selected for Cannes earlier this year; one of them, “Mangrove,” runs twice as long; and Amazon will release the entire anthology in the U.S. after the festival run. (The others involve true stories of racial injustice, including the notorious tale of the Mangrove Nine, and the experiences of former Black police officer Leroy Logan.)”

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