The film Free State of Jones is based on a true story of a rebellion within a rebellion, telling the tale of a former Confederate soldier who leads a small faction against the Confederate government to declare independence in his corner of Mississippi. In the trailer, it appears that Jones leads a force made up in large part by former enslaved Americans and disenchanted Confederate veterans.
While the film itself seems to be based on a screenplay rather than a novel, the story of the rebellious Newton Knight is told in Tap Roots, a 525-page doorstopper written in the 1940s by James H. Street, a Mississippi native and journalist for the Associated Press and the author of several popular novels about the Civil War era set in the South. Street died all too young at the age of 50, but he had an impressive literary output. All of his books, fortunately, are now available as ebooks.
The upcoming movie also puts us in mind of the classic William Styron novel, The Confessions of Nat Turner. Again based on a true story, Styron imagined the life of Nat Turner and the real-life rebellion that he led in the 1840s.
The trailer reminds us a lot of a film set during another Revolution, The Patriot, starring Mel Gibson. Any good thriller needs a good villain, and The Patriot demonized British forces, much as The Free State of Jones appears to turn the Confederates into villains.
Of course, any Civil War movie will be popular with us history buffs, and we will be first in line to buy tickets to see The Free State of Jones when it hits theaters in May.