Free State Jones director defends film against 'white saviour' claims

  • Bang Showbiz
  • 11 August 2016
Free State Jones star Matthew McConaughey

Free State Jones star Matthew McConaughey

Director Gary Ross has rejected the idea that his film 'Free State Jones' portrays slavery as an issue solved by "white saviours"

'Free State Jones' director Gary Ross has defended the film over 'white saviour' accusations.

The 56-year-old director rejects the idea that his American Civil War movie - much like 'Amistad', 'Django Unchained' and even 'Twelve Years a Slave' - portrays slavery as a problem solved by white saviours.

Ross, of 'Seabiscuit' fame, argues that the lead character - played by Matthew McConaughey - is in fact saved by the African American characters.

Speaking to Total Film magazine Ross said: "I think the white saviour trope is about someone delivering people who have no agency.

"First of all, no one is delivered. We tell the truth. If anything the African Americans adopt Newt [McConaughey's character] as opposed to the other way round. He's as healed as they are by him."

The story follows the true story of Newton Knight who during the American Civil War rebels against the Confederacy in Jones Town, Mississippi, and befriends Rachel, a slave woman who has secretly learned to read.

Winning the uprising they briefly manage to establish a successful mixed race community.

McConaughey, 46, was really taken with the character he played believing him to be a man of integrity.

The 'Dallas Buyers Club' star said: "He was a man who understood the humanity of the Bible, of treating your neighbour like you would treat yourself.

"I took a two week trip down south. I talked to a lot of historians, met a lot of Newt's descendants. You got to hear facts but also the folklore. There were people who thought he was a bandit. He was hell of a man to dive into."

'Free State Jones' will be released on 9 September.

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