Copperhead Parent Guide
"Copperhead" is a powerful look at the price one man and his family pays to exercise their right for conscientious decent, and the high cost that comes on the home front.
Parent Movie Review
Not one shot is fired in the Civil War movie Copperhead. Not one cannon ball explodes. Not one bloody war injury is shown. But that doesn’t mean a fierce battle isn’t brewing in an upstate New York town where the lines of demarcation are drawn as decisively as they are on the frontline.
In this tiny community, Abner Beech (Billy Campbell) is an anomaly—a Democrat who strongly opposes Lincoln and the war efforts to free the slaves. He disagrees with the call for young men and boys to march off to fight. But his opinions don’t sit well with his staunchly Republican neighbors who begin to shun him, suddenly questioning the quality of his milk and lumber products and initially refusing to let him cast his vote in an election. Even the local minister (Brian Downey) berates Abner’s opinion from the pulpit.
However the feud that divides the nation becomes even more personal for Abner when his son Jeff (Casey Thomas Brown) enlists to fight for the North. The young man leaves behind his family and his girl (Lucy Boynton), the daughter of a scripture-thumping widower (Angus Macfadyen) who is as opposed to Jeff and Esther’s friendship as Abner is. But Jeff’s decision to fight for Republican ideals doesn’t appease the neighbors who gather outside of Abner’s house, shouting threats and building a blazing fire to light their torches from. Unfortunately as their passions rise to a fevered pitch, the war begins to exact a toll even among the members of this tiny town who are far from the warfront.
Based on the novel by Harold Frederic, Copperhead offers a viewpoint of the war that differs from both Lincoln and the classic Gone With the Wind. Independent filmmaker Ronald Maxwell, who directed Gettysburg and Gods and Generals, peels open a story that gets to the very heart of the war that torn apart families, communities and the nation.
While the film depicts some maimed soldiers returning home, a fistfight at an election poll and a huge fire that destroys a home, a suicide may be the most unsettling scene of violence. Brief profanities and a couple of scenes of drinking are also shown along with the rising tensions among neighbors. However for teens and adults, Copperhead is a powerful, though slow moving, look at the price one man and his family pays to exercise their right for conscientious decent, and the high cost that comes on the home front.
Release Date: 28 June 2013 (Limited)Directed by Ronald F. Maxwell. Starring François Arnaud, Billy Campbell, Angus Macfadyen, Peter Fonda. Running time: 120 minutes. Theatrical release June 28, 2013. Updated July 17, 2017
Rating & Content Info
Why is Copperhead rated PG-13? Copperhead is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for an unsettling sequence.
Violence: Tensions begin to rise among neighbors as they discuss their opposing opinions on the war. Name-calling ensues along with a fistfight at an election poll. Arguments also break out among family members. Soldiers bring a body back from the frontlines in a casket. Some maimed soldiers return home. A house catches fire and burns to the ground. A young woman is suspected of being dead. One character commits suicide. A soldier describes a war injury that cost him his arm.
Sexual Content: A young couple kisses.
Language: The script contains some brief profanities and terms of Deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Characters pass around a jug of alcohol. Characters drink and smoke infrequently.
Page last updated July 17, 2017
Copperhead Parents' Guide
One young soldier says that the war you read about in the newspaper isn’t the same as the real war. How can the media influence the way people see the conflict? How might newspaper (or TV) reports be used to either promote or hamper war efforts? How can those reports alter the way the public perceives returning soldiers?
How are religious people depicted in this movie? How does this portrayal promote stereotypes that may not be true?
Why does Abner refer to war as a fever? Can people lose a sense of reason when their passions become inflamed? How do the townsfolk respond to Abner? What does he do to provoke the situation?
Learn more about the American Civil War.
The most recent home video release of Copperhead movie is April 15, 2014. Here are some details…
Copperhead releases to home video on April 15, 2014.