Free State of Jones
Music Composed By: Nicholas Britell
Songs By: Lucinda Williams
Distributed by: Sony Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
The movie Free State of Jones was inspired by Newton Knight's rebellion against the Confederacy during the Civil War. After surviving the Battle of Corinth, Knight, a Confederate Army battlefield medic, deserts and returns home to his wife (Kerri Russell) in Jones County, Mississippi. Coming home to his living as a poor farmer does nothing to inspire loyalty toward the army he deserted as the Confederacy continues to confiscate crops and livestock for its troops. Befriending a slave (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who has learned how to read, Knight decides that it is time to fight back against the Confederacy and all it stands for. But can a handful of deserters and runaway slaves hope to fight an entire army?
The musical score of Free State of Jones was created by American pianist, film producer and composer Nicholas Brittell. As a musician, he was noted as among "the most talented artists at work" by Vogue magazine. He made his break into film composition with his score for New York, I Love You. Since then, he has composed music for Gimme the Loot, The Seventh Fire, A Tale of Love and Darkness, The Big Short and, most notably, additional music for the critically acclaimed 12 Years A Slave.
Free State of Jones takes place during a sad time in American history, when the nation was split in two and brother fought against brother. This was a time when slavery was still an acceptable thing - when it was believed that humans could be bought and sold and put to work as a white man's property. Thus, it doesn't surprise me that the score of this film is woven through with an innate sense of sadness. Battles are accompanied by morose trumpets, strings and percussion. A sense of Mississippi and the poor farmer that Newton Knight was can be heard through sultry strings, banjos, acoustic guitars and mandolins. The ending song, I'm Crying by Lucinda Williams, is dedicated to the memory of all that slaves had to contend with.
The Free State of Jones Soundtrack is very dramatic, perfectly expressing a sad time in our history through music and the grit and determination of the few to fight for what is right. Though an excellent score created to accompany the film, I'm not quite sure that it will be a high seller in music stores. This is one of those niche items - if you enjoyed the film or the composer's work, you will definitely want to pick up this soundtrack, but if not, it may be something people pass up in favor of lighter fair.