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Civil War in Mississippi. “Free State of Jones” Film Essay

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Updated: Jun 5th, 2021

Introduction

It is highly significant for people of any nation to remember the biggest moments of the history of previous generations. First of all, it helps to understand the process of nation-building, the cultural peculiarities of their ancestors, and the historical evolution of their countries. Moreover, the awareness of history enables people to prevent mistakes that were made in the past. Therefore, children start studying both the histories of their state and foreign countries from a young age. Reading different sources remains the main tool that contributes to people’s understanding of various historical events. For example, there are numerous works devoted to the Texas Revolution and the Mexican-American War of the 19th century. Each work contributes to one’s understanding of mentioned historical events in various ways as it was written by people of different cultural backgrounds, beliefs, and life experiences.

The Texas Revolution and the Mexican-American War

An American historian, Robert Remini, in his article “Texas Must Be Ours,” writes about prerequisites and consequences of the annexation of Texas by the United States. It is worth mentioning that the narration is based on the facts from the perspectives of the United States. Moreover, the author describes the actions of Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the USA, in a detailed way as if he knew him personally. Both the beginning of the article and its end contain information about the president: “From the moment he entered the White House in March 1829, Andrew Jackson of Tennessee turned a cold and calculating eye on Texas” (Remini201). In the end, after the annexation of Taxes, the author says that Jackson “Thanked God that he had lived to see this happy day” (Remini 207). Therefore, Remini expressed all his feelings about the annexation of Texas, his emotions, and even thoughts, which give a reader an opportunity to understand what motivated the president to take certain actions on his way to acquiring Texas, and what caused the Mexican-American War.

José Hernández, on the contrary, in his work “Mexican Expulsions & Indian Removal during the Early Period of Global Mass Immigrations,” demonstrates the story from the perspectives of Mexico and its people. He narrates about the deportations of Mexicans from the USA in the first half of the 19th century that was organized to foster Euro-American colonization of the Texas territory. Moreover, the author asserts that these deportations led to the uprisings in Taxes organized by Mexicans which only deteriorated the political situation in the state: “The repeated attempt by various Mexican administrations to reconquer Texas, especially in 1842, only complicated an already altered state of affairs, and served as yet another opportunity to question the loyalty of ethnic-Mexicans” (31). Therefore, this article gives an opportunity to look at the situation from a different side. It helps to create the full picture of what was happening in Texas between Americans and Mexicans before the Texas Revolution. Moreover, the author introduces another cause of the Mexican-American War, which is an evasion of immigrants.

Therefore, applying to various sources written by authors of different cultural backgrounds and beliefs helps to create the whole picture of certain historical events in readers’ minds. Thus, considering numerous points of view about the Texas Revolution and the Mexican-American War, one can better understand the prerequisites that caused this war and analyze its consequences for all sides of the conflict. Moreover, reading these articles encourages people to think analytically and create their own opinion about the situation.

Civil War in Mississippi

Nowadays, the development of computer technologies allows people to study and learning new things in an entertaining way. For example, there are numerous movies that are filmed based on novels. It is helpful if one does not like reading or, does not have time for it. However, sometimes the stories shown in the movies can be different from the narrations in the books, depending on the will of a filmmaker. The movie based on the book The Free State of Jones written by Victoria Bynum is not an exception. The stories portrayed in the book and the film have a lot in common but also have a lot of differences.

The Free State of Jones

The story narrates about the Civil War in Mississippi in the 19th century. First of all, it is worth mentioning that the film is not entirely based on the book of Bynum, even though it was used as one of the major sources. One of the most significant differences between the book and the film is that the book is an academic publication written by a professor of history. The movie, however, aimed to attract people through artistic scenes rather than historical facts. Therefore, some points in the book and the film are different.

One of the differences between the book and the film is the role of women in the war. In the movie, women are shown more like lovers, even though they were also great assistants during the war. Moreover, according to the book, the relationship between Serena, the wife of Newton, and Rachel is not clear. They lived in one household for some time, but Bynum did not give precise information on how they treated each other. However, in one of the lasts scenes in the film, they were shown as two wives who lived happily taken care of their husbands together. Therefore, the movie failed to convey the idea of Bynum about difficulties met by Knight’s multiracial family in society. Also, there were some discrepancies in small details in the film. For example, Serena had nine kids with Newton, while in the film, only one is shown. In addition, some of the facts are missed in the movie. For example, the story does not mention that Newt was imprisoned and tortured in 1963. Moreover, there were the chronological jumps in the film that made the story confusing since the events that happened from 1869 to 1875 were skipped.

However, some scenes of the movie remain true to the narration of Victoria Bynum in her book. The director of the movie, Gary Ross, showed that social class was very significant during the Civil War in Mississippi. This idea is also highlighted through the whole narration in the book. Also, Bynum shows how dangerous could be to claim their rights for people at that time. This idea was supported in one of the scenes of the film when people were marching to the town to vote to be aware of the violence they could face on their way.

Conclusion

In general, Gary Ross created a very credible story full of people’s emotions and breathtaking battlefield scenes. This movie can serve as an excellent educational tool for people. However, to have a fuller picture of the events that were happening during the Civil War in Mississippi, it is needed to read academic sources. Even though it is a very long movie, it still has some gaps because it is not possible to show everything that was happening in the frame of one film.

Works Cited

Hernandez, Jose. “Mexican Expulsions & Indian Removal during the Early Period of Global Mass Immigrations.”World History Bulletin, no. 2. Edited by Jared Poley, 2014, pp. 30-34.

Remini, Robert. “Texas Must Be Ours.” Edited by Howard Bodner and Joella Robinson,“A Special Covenant…”Perspectives on American History, vol. 1, 2001, pp. 201-207.

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1. IvyPanda. "Civil War in Mississippi. “Free State of Jones” Film." June 5, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/civil-war-in-mississippi-free-state-of-jones-film/.


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IvyPanda. "Civil War in Mississippi. “Free State of Jones” Film." June 5, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/civil-war-in-mississippi-free-state-of-jones-film/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Civil War in Mississippi. “Free State of Jones” Film." June 5, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/civil-war-in-mississippi-free-state-of-jones-film/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Civil War in Mississippi. “Free State of Jones” Film'. 5 June.

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