We live in a day and age when the causes of the Civil War are still being debated, where is can be said that Reconstruction never truly ended and anything that has to do with the Confederacy is being called out as a sin that should be wiped from the collective memory.
Along comes a movie like Free State of Jones that shows a man rebelling against the rebels, deserting from their army and rallying his relatives and neighbors to stop fighting the wars of the rich planters as he goes on to build a society around the idea that all men, regardless of color are the same. It’s a story that a cynical person could believe was custom-made to get people talking in light of where our society is.
The thing is, it is a true story. Newt Knight was a real person and Jones County Mississippi did indeed break away from the Confederate States of America and actively fought against the Confederate Army on behalf of the Union. Of course being a movie things are not 100% accurate, but the general gist is there.
Matthew McConaughey plays Newt Knight and he does it well. McConaughey is one of those actors that to me, always feels like he is playing himself instead fo a character, but in this movie he takes on the roles and does a fine job with the material he is given. The rest of the cast is good, but no one really stands out. For the most part that is because the script is a little messy, and paper-thin in places. Which with an over two-hour run time means a lot of water being tread.
As a Civil War movie it is effective in invoking the conflict, while also showing an aspect of it that is no often dealt with. Not everyone who lived in the South and fought for the South did so to defend slavery. The vast majority of the Confederate soldiers were not slave owners and when push came to shove chose to defend their homes and family when the fighting started.
It’s a good movie and well worth seeing once. As always you can click on the picture above to get the movie at Amazon. Unlike most times though I am also including a link below to the book. If the movie is interesting to you, pick up the book. or just get the book and then check out the movie.