There are two very interesting stories being told within The Free State of Jones. The bulk of the film tells the story of Newton Knight (Matthew McConaughey), a field medic for the Confederate Army during the height of the Civil War. As the war raged on, Knight deserted his company and defended his and his neighbours’ property from pillaging Confederate cavalry. The penalty for desertion (and most crimes under the CSA) is death; so Newt ran. With the help of friends, Newt joined a band of runaway slaves, hiding from trackers in the swamps. The group grew larger as more deserters and runaways sought refuge from the all consuming war. 5 became 10 and 10 became 100 and soon the ‘colony’ sought more permanent dwellings. Eventually, after overtaking the small town of Ellisville, ‘The Knight Company’ sought to secede Jones County from Mississippi and become The Free State Of Jones.
However, as I’ve stated; there are two storied being told in this film. In late 1948 Newt’s Great Grandson Davis also fought for his freedom. Given the common knowledge of Newt Knight’s second marriage to a former slave, Davis was dragged into court to prove his ethnicity. It’s a rare occurrence where a child’s paternity wasn’t a of the father’s, but of the mother’s identity. If proven to be technically black, Davis could face serious jail time for marrying his wife, Junie Lee Spradley, a local white woman. Continue reading “Movie Review – The Free State of Jones”