On Friday, the Civil War drama "Free State of Jones" hits theaters, and promises to remind viewers that all humans are created equal in the sight of God, and are deserving of freedom.
Based on true events, "Free State of Jones" is directed by Gary Ross (The Hunger Games, Seabiscuit) and stars Oscar-award actor Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club, Interstellar), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Concussion), Keri Russell (The Americans), and Mahershala Ali (House of Cards).
The film is set in 1863, where Mississippi farmer Newt Knight (McConaughey) serves as a medic for the Confederate Army. Despite this, Knight hold a fierce opposition to slavery and distaste for wealthy plantation owners. Disillusioned by the death and destruction seen on both sides, he ventually returns home to Jones County to safeguard his family after his nephew dies in battle.He is quickly viewed as a deserter and outlaw by the Confederate Army and forced to flee.
Soon, Knight begins heading vigilante missions to help save local women and children from being mercilessly raided by Rebel troops plundering food and resources. However, his purpose soon turns larger. With help of Moses and several other runaway slaves, Knight begins recruiting southern deserters to fight against Confederate armies and champion the right of men and women to live freely, vote, and keep their own land and crops.
While rated R for brutal battle scenes and disturbing graphic images, themes of faith, liberty, and hope are evident throughout "Free State of Jones." The film offers viewers a timely reminder that as children of God, all people are created equal and have the right to be free.
"I'm a free man, Captain," Moses tells Knight in one particularly poignant scene.
"Why's that?" Knight asks.
"Because you cannot own a child of God," Moses responds.
"No you cannot, can you," Knight says. "You can own a horse, you can own a mule, cow, or ox, but you cannot own a child of God."
Historically, Newton Knight, a professing Christian, did indeed lead a rebellion - one of several groups who seceded from the Confederacy as the Confederacy seceded from the United States. The story was filmed in 1948 as "Tap Roots,"with Van Heflin, Susan Hayward, and Boris Karloff.
"He just had an inner compass that told him to do what was right and what was moral, and he acted on it," Ross told the Christian Examiner of Knight. "That's what makes him an exemplary leader."
To learn more about "Free State of Jones," visit the film website.