Free State of Jones photo

Below you’ll find the first official image of a grimy, cautious Matthew McConaughey on the battlefield in the film The Free State of Jones. Directed by Gary Ross, the Civil War drama features McConaughey as Newton Knight, who leads the residents of Jones County, Mississippi in a bid to secede from the Confederacy. The film also stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Keri Russell, and Mahershala Ali. Check out the full Free State of Jones photo below.

The Free State of Jones - First Look

There’s more to the story than just the secession. Knight also married a former slave, for example, and based on that relationship became an important part of a community that was very unusual in the South at the time. There are differing visions of Knight’s nature, and he’s seen as both hero and outlaw — to be expected, given his violent rebellion against the Confederacy.

A handful of books, including one by his son, offer varying visions of his life, with later writing questioning just how effective the Jones County Rebellion actually was. We don’t know quite what the film will depict, but given the participants it will likely depict Knight in a flattering light.

The Free State of Jones is in production now in New Orleans, and will be released on March 11, 2016. Image via The Film Stage.

Set during the Civil War, The Free State of Jones tells the story of defiant Southern farmer, Newt Knight, and his extraordinary armed rebellion against the Confederacy. Banding together with other small farmers and with the assistance of local slaves, Knight launched an uprising that led Jones County, Mississippi to secede from the Confederacy, creating a Free State of Jones. His marriage to a former slave, Rachel, and his subsequent establishment of a mixed race community was unique in the post-war South. Knight continued his struggle into Reconstruction, distinguishing him as a compelling, if controversial, figure of defiance long beyond the War.

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