Thoughts On The Movie “Union Bound”

Union Bound

Since I first saw the trailer for the new Civil War movie Union Bound (released in select theaters on Friday, April 22, 2016), I knew I wanted to go see it. After all, how often does a film based on the real adventures in a Union Soldier’s diary make it to the box office? And a story about an escaping prisoner and slaves’ quest for freedom? Even better!

Most weekends are a little hectic around my home with family members going in different directions to different activities. When I issued the call to action (a.k.a. who wants to go see a Civil War movie with me?) only my brother Josiah had the afternoon free. So off we went to the movies.

Sarah Kay Bierle and her brother going to see “Union Bound” (It was a very windy outside the theater, LOL)

At the box office, we proudly declared we were there to see the Civil War movie, got the tickets, and made our way to…an empty theater! It was sort of funny to have private viewing of the film, but it was sad too. While all the ridiculous movie previews were blaring, I kept wishing there was some way to bring some of you blog readers to the theater so there would be more than just two Civil War “fans.”

Actor Sean Stone portrays Sergeant Joseph Hoover, the Union Soldier whose journal inspired the movie

Actor Sean Stone portrays Sergeant Joseph Hoover, the Union Soldier whose journal inspired the movie

The movie swept us into the storyline and setting: 1864. Though the film started a little “slow” it picked up steam as it progressed, and a series of surprising events kept us interested and anxious to see how it turned out. It’s not an “action movie”, and I wasn’t proverbially biting my fingernails, but the plot unfolds nicely as Sergeant Joseph Hoover and his companions search for freedom.

Remarkably, the story is based on the events in a real primary source: Joseph Hoover’s diary. (You can read more about him here.) Because the focus is on one real soldier, the movie doesn’t feature large battles, generals, or the blood ‘n guts version of war; rather it trails Hoover’s journey from Rebel prisons through the swamps and woods of the Carolinas as he learns to trust and discovers that freedom is a universal desire.

Now, I’m not going to spoil the exciting parts or the plot… You’ll just have to go see it for yourself! Here’s the official trailer:

During our drive home, my brother and I discussed some of the positive details that stood out to us. First, the acting was good. Second, the music was beautiful, especially the main theme. (We actually stayed and watched all the scrolling credits just to enjoy the music.) Thirdly, we appreciated how the soldier and slaves’ faith and religion was portrayed; Union Bound is not a so-called “Christian film”, but it does acknowledge the importance of religion to people during the Civil War era. Fourthly, there is some great (and appropriate) soldier humor scattered throughout this piece.

Tank Jones portrays Jim Young, an African American man searching for the realities of freedom

Tank Jones portrays Jim Young, an African American man searching for the realities of freedom

Of course, there were a few details that we thought could’ve been improved a little, but they were really minor points. And I don’t feel like being too picky toward an independent film company that has produced an enjoyable and historically accurate film.

Go see Union Bound. Check the movie’s official website for a listing of theaters. Show your support for a film presenting a unique and powerful perspective on the Civil War: “He went to free the slaves, but in the end was freed by them.”

And just remember…when you’re in a fiery situation, don’t say you’re with the 7th North Carolina Cavalry! (It’s an insider joke; go see the movie and come tell us what you think in a comment.)

About Sarah Kay Bierle

I’m Sarah Kay Bierle, historian, living history enthusiast, and historical fiction writer. When sharing history, I try to keep the facts interesting and understandable. History is about real people, real actions, real effects and it should inspire us today.
This entry was posted in Civil War in Pop Culture, Common Soldier, Slavery and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Thoughts On The Movie “Union Bound”

  1. missbellatrix says:

    Thanks for the review! I really want to see this movie too. It sounds like I’d enjoy it!

  2. Pingback: Creating Music For A Historical Drama: An Interview With Dane B. Frazier | Emerging Civil War

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