Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is Netflix’s ambitious upcoming film which is not only a big name in the Oscars race but also marks the final film shot by Chadwick Boseman before his untimely death this summer. In the film, he plays a trumpeter to Viola Davis’ blues singer. The trailer of the film was unveiled by Netflix earlier today.
Based on August Wilson’s (Fences) award-winning 1984 stage play of the same name, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is set in 1920s Chicago and follows the conflict between Rainey and the white ownership of the clubs where her band performed. In addition, Boseman plays Levee (a fictitious character to the legendary blues recording artiste), who is constantly at loggerheads with Ma Rainey. “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” was one of her hit recordings. We see glimpses of Levee’s ambition in the trailer, and many significantly rebellious moments from Davis’ distinctive Ma Rainey. The music is heavily influenced by the jazz and blues culture of the time, as the story goes, and the film will certainly be an auditory and visual delight.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom was nominated for Best Play at the Tony Awards held in 1985. Levee’s character was written specifically for Broadway and was originally played by Charles S. Dutton, who also earned a Tony nomination. Eventually, Wilson won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Fences. Both shows are an important part of the Black American experience canon of the 20th century.
The Netflix adaptation is directed by George C. Wolfe and stars Davis and Boseman, with Colman Domingo, Michael Potts, Glynn Turman, Dusan Brown, and Taylour Paige. It streams worldwide on December 19, and also opens in select theatres in the US.