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Tonight I got to watch "Free State of Jones." I suppose there are SPOILERS here, but not really anything I didn't heavily suspect from the trailer.

It's a well-executed, well-told historical drama. Lots of pathos and tragedy, not too trite, and reasonably true to history - really not a bad introduction to Reconstruction and the Klan. It's entirely possible to enjoy it at that level. The problem for me is I couldn't quite turn off my brain.

The story centers on a white man conscripted into the Confederate army. He watches a young boy die and then deserts because "no man ought to tell another what he ought to live for, or what he ought to die for." Eventually he escapes into the swamp and leads a band of runaway slaves, deserters and criminals, and generally folks who want to be out of reach of the Confederate Army. It's all very egalitarian, and libertarian - focusing on the freedom to make your own choices, profit from your labor.

Problem is, it's nowhere near that simple. I'd love to dig into just how the movie violates libertarian principles of justice and shows why at least Nozick's version of libertarianism falls on its faxe, which is a big problem if your theme is why can't we all live together, recognize we're all the same, and live off the land? The more visceral problwm, though, is it almost forces the plot to dip into white saviors and the whole mammy motif. Jones's dream really only worked --to the extent it did-- for whites living off their whiteness.

Perfect cap to the movie was seeing a movie poster on my way out, with Matthew McConaughey and his face coated in grime. Not quite blackface, but even so...

Don't mean to ruin it for everyone else. Probably quite good if you don't over think it, and it was nice to lose myself in it for a bit. It bothered me a bit, though. This is how I redeem that.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
shadowfireflame
Jun. 25th, 2016 02:25 pm (UTC)
Interesting--I hadn't even heard of it before this, so thanks for the tip! We could use more movies about the complexities of the Civil War, but the "white savior" trope is so tired and boring!
marta_bee
Jun. 26th, 2016 01:41 am (UTC)
I think it's actually very much worth watching just for the history. Not sure I'd lay theater money down to do so, maybe wait until it's out on DVD. (Despite involving some battle scenes with some gruesome but tasteful carnage in a few places, it's not the special effects-ridden summer blockbuster that needs to be seen on the big screen.)

What I really want is to read a book about him, because he does seem like a very interesting character.
donutgirl
Jun. 25th, 2016 02:54 pm (UTC)
I saw a preview for it last week. my first thought was, "how nice, a historical movie with actual black people in it." and my second thought was, "too bad they don't seem to have any lines, and all the action and heroism belongs to the white dude."

I was wondering if it was just how the trailer was cut, but it sounds like that was a pretty fair conclusion...
marta_bee
Jun. 26th, 2016 01:47 am (UTC)
I actually went to see Cap:CW a third time before it left theaters but either I went to the wrong megaplex (Times Square, there's more than one...) or the online listings were wrong. It was either go home again, this one or Independence Day - and after the Brexit nonsense I so wasn't in the mood for a movie about good patriotic Westerners against foreign invaders set to take our world away from us.

*coughs*

It actually was a fun movie. Engrossing enough to forget about RL for a bit, which was welcome. And it gave me philosophical meant to chew on, which is also nice - I really would love to have the time/energy to dig into that bit about how it violates libertarianism by its own principles more. But I can't say the trailer was at all misleading on that point.

There are some other aspects that made me just a bit uncomfortable, racism-wise. Not only was there the blacks needing the white man to save them, there were two points that got into "good" black versus "bad" black (good hair, light skin, could almost "pass," etc.). The fact that they got a bit more depth and still got to occupy the put-upon minority role didn't go unnoticed... :-S
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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