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Barry Jenkins Gleefully Describes Blowing Up a Confederate Monument in Underground Railroad

  • It's not every day that you have the chance to blow up a Confederate monument, but when the opportunity arises, you jump at it. Barry Jenkins, the mastermind behind Amazon's The Underground Railroad, explained as much during an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers this week, although he admitted that Amazon used a bit of movie magic to make Stone Mountain, Georgia go boom. But still, said Jenkins, "it gave great satisfaction" to see the Confederate monument collapse into rubble, CGI or not.

    When Meyers asked about "cathartic" The Underground Railroad moment, Jenkins joked that he should "maybe stop saying that," as he doesn't want to get sued. "It's a figurative blow up," he explained. "We actually didn't get to blow up pieces of rock. We brought rock, and we exploded it on the face of Stone Mountain, Georgia."

    Located just outside Atlanta, Stone Mountain features a large etching of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson and President Jefferson Davis. The carving was created in the 1960s as a "memorial to the Confederacy," but despite years of controversy, the etching has not been removed, and any changes would have to be approved by Georgia's state legislature.

    As a result, Jenkins' moment of catharsis was purely symbolic, but that doesn't lessen its impact. "The same way walking on plantations and feeling the essence of my ancestors -- standing on the side of that structure, knowing what was etched on one side, and knowing the story we were telling, it gave great satisfaction" to blow it up, he told Meyers. "I was saying, 'No, two takes isn't enough! I think we need four. Let's do it again. Let's do it again.'"

    The Underground Railroad is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

    Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.

    TOPICS: The Underground Railroad, Late Night with Seth Meyers, Barry Jenkins