Free State of Jones hails all the way back to the Civil War era, but it is about more than just the war that killed more Americans than any other. As evidenced in the trailer, it features Matthew McConaughey in a role that could very well earn him another Oscar, and the story parallels what the modern American political climate is enduring.
Race in America has always been a hot-button topic. It was just a bit more severe before Abraham Lincoln came through and freed the African-American slaves after the Civil War. But Matthew McConaughey’s Knight had a different battle to win, and that was on his own front, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
At the premiere of Free State of Jones, producers and actors were in attendance to talk about the film with the press, but Matthew McConaughey couldn’t make it. Bill Tangradi, who portrays a Confederate soldier in Free State of Jones, spoke with the Hollywood Reporter about the film.
“I just hope that this film just creates a conversation, that it creates a discourse — an ongoing discourse about race in America, about the role of sovereignty in America and an individual’s will to try and affect change, no matter what your race is,” Tangradi told THR.
— Free State of Jones (@FreeStateMovie) June 21, 2016
That’s because producers for the film want their audience to not just watch Free State of Jones and forget about it, but rather let it create a discussion in America that challenges the ideas of racism as an institution and what it represents to the modern American public.
Even though the discussion at the Free State of Jones premiere was mostly about race during the era, those who were addressing it kept using the term “ongoing,” which indicates that the struggle to end racism has not been solved and the institution itself has been thriving for centuries, although it has been somewhat weakened.
Actors and actresses in Free State of Jones, such as Kerry Cahill, were very vocal about what the film truly represents to themselves and how they want their audience to view it.
“What I really hope is that they [the audience] have an understanding that the Civil War and American policy pre- and post-Civil War was a lot more grey than it seems — that it’s been a lot more complex and we’re still affected by policies post-Civil War [era],” Cahill told THR. “If you know your own history, then you can move forward better because you know you’re standing on solid ground.”
— Free State of Jones (@FreeStateMovie) June 16, 2016
Gary Ross wrote and directed Free State of Jones. His message came through quite vividly in the film as well as after the premiere when he also got to answer a few questions and make a statement.
“To me, it’s (Free State of Jones) very important for people to understand what’s true and what isn’t so that they can find the story to be reliable and to know what I fictionalized and what I did not,” Ross said. “I think there’s a burden when you’re dealing with this type of material to make sure people understand what’s true and what isn’t. I took that burden seriously.”
That is, of course, a burden that all filmmakers are subjected to when they make a movie that is based on a true story. There is a reason that material has to be fictionalized to draw in bigger crowds. But there is still a true story at stake, just like with Free State of Jones.
Another film that has been released recently that is supposedly based on a true story is James Wan’s The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist. Although that film is claimed to be based on a true story, the movie has so many scary moments in it that is hard to believe that certain aspects of it actually happened. But it was fictionally dramatized for cinematic effect, which draws a bigger audience.
[Image via STX Entertainment]