Free State of Jones (2016), Dir. Gary Ross

Free State of Jones (2016), Dir. Gary Ross
No man ought to tell another man what he’s gotta live for or what he’s got to die for.
— Newton Knight, Free State of Jones (2016)

Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mahershala Ali, Keri Russell.
Director: Gray Ross
Screenplay: Gray Ross

Set in the 1860's in Civil War Alabama comes a true story about Newton Knight, a deserter of the Confederate army who ends up fighting for the rights for every free man. The film stretches over a decades worth of story and while interesting, it definitely feels overly long. Which is a shame as the acting in Free State of Jones is quite incredible and once again McConaughey bats it out of the park.

The film takes its time to tell each part of Knight's story of why he left the army, to how he tries to help his neighbours keep their possessions from the Tax collectors, to living in the swamp, to building a community of free Black Slaves and other deserted men, all the way through to all men voting and the introduction of the Klu Klux Klan. If this film had a bit more oomph in its direction and storytelling the film would have been amazing. Sadly this film is just okay.

Though this film has its flaws it does an impressive job of showing what life was like back in the Southern States of America. It is highlighting ideologies that still to this day lives on in many people's beliefs and way of life. The extreme hatred toward Black people to the point where not only fear mongering people about from the voting box but the need to murder in such revolting ways is even more disgusting to see as you still see this type of hatred today. 

This is the first time that I have understood what was happening at the time of the Civil War and it shocks me to know that it wasn't all that long ago. This is recent history, it was also at a time where other countries had already given voting rights to its indigenous people (okay fine, I am just talking about New Zealand and even around this time we were not all that cheery down here, because you know, the whole land wars and all...). So it is nice to see that we have come along way but it is also so disappointing that we haven't made all that much progress either. What these men and women were fighting for—equal rights for every child of god—is something that we are still fighting for.