Billy Campbell. Still from Copperhead
Billy Campbell. Still from Copperhead

Copperhead (2013) was filmed on location at the Kings Landing Historical Settlement, New Brunswick, Canada. It’s a beautifully melodramatic story about the effects of the US Civil War on a small community in northern New York State. The movie is based on a novel published in 1893 by author Harold Frederic.

The music score was composed and directed by Laurent Eyquem. It also includes traditional folk tunes written by Stephen Foster.

This Canadian film project was co-produced by John Houston and directed by Ron Maxwell. It features a fine cast of actors, including Peter Fonda.

The stunning cinematography by Kees Van Oostrum lends an authentic natural element to the film.

Folks in the north who opposed the War Between the States were called “Copperheads”, a reference to the venomous snake indigenous to the southern United States. Human and civil rights violations committed by both sides — The Union and the Confederacy — along with massive casualties, made this the bloodiest war in the history of the US.

Copperhead examines some of the political and religious influences behind the conflict – fanatical militant abolitionists versus pro-slavery reactionaries. Ron Maxwell and screenplay writer Bill Kauffman do a good job of telling the story of two families and the political divide that separated them in 1862.

Best quote: “War is a fever, son. And you get head up in the fever and it puts you out of your right mind, and you do the things you wouldn’t do if you weren’t sick.”

This film might make you laugh, cry and rejoice before you’re through watching it. The theme of the film concerns historical events which took place in the United States of America, but this is a great example of high quality Canadian cinema.

There are plenty of eccentric characters and dramatic scenes in this movie. The film is thoughtful without becoming too plodding or uber intellectual. It’s a realistic honest portrayal of the national political, military and human rights conflicts which still plague our nation today.

If the intense story line doesn’t spark interesting discussions between viewers, then the art of conversation is definitely dead in the United States. Today the Civil War is being fought under the surface of our national social and political dialogue, The legacy of this terrible conflict is still alive both above and below the Mason/Dixon line.

A criticism: Although Copperhead centers around the issues of slavery and the “emancipation” of African Americans, like far too many North American films, the cast includes only white actors…

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, the content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.