Copperhead the movie, in its first week in Richmond, is garnering nice reviews from several sources.
Here’s the Washington Post’s take on Copperhead:
The story offers uncommon insights on the endlessly parsed period in history, but its execution sometimes falls short. Both the production quality and the persistent, sentimental soundtrack create a made-for-TV feel. And the acting is a bit uneven, with varied success among the actors at mastering an old-timey accent. But that doesn’t distract too terribly from the moral of the story — that the damages of war stretch far beyond the battlefield.
The WashPo might have done better to elaborate on the causes of the copperhead movement (or the Peace Democrats) but that comes too close to the Lincoln myth. The Hollywood Reporter was better:
Beech is a dairy farmer who’s opposed to slavery but, in language that will resonate with Tea Party-affiliated viewers, argues that Lincoln’s war is unconstitutional. He’s a good deal calmer than his present-day dissident kin, though: Campbell offers as much intellect as righteousness and more sadness than anger over his neighbors’ war fever.
If you are a “Tea Party-affiliated” guy or gal – that should be a reason to go to Copperhead! Here is a Christian movie review site on Copperhead.
Jee’s foil is Abner Beech (Billy Campbell, Gods and Generals), a much more reserved Democrat who staunchly opposes the War on constitutional and humanitarian grounds. He is disgusted at the enormous death toll that the War has brought about, and wants to keep his own sons from such a grisly death. “My family means more to me,” Abner explains, “than any Union.”
Abner Beech is a “Copperhead,” a northern dissenter mistrusted by his abolitionist peers. Similar to the way many southerners refused to own or mistreat slaves, and disagreed with the South’s secession, many northerners like Abner were fiercely against the War. Minority factions are rarely featured or even mentioned in retellings of great historical events, and Copperhead pulls back the curtain to zero in on such dissenters.
But the New American has an excellent detailed review:
This greatly distresses Jeff’s father, Abner Beech, who believes his son will be attacking those who had done him “no harm.” A masterful screenplay by writer Bill Kauffman enables Beech to deliver articulate opposition to the war, without subjecting the movie audience to didactic speeches. Beech rails against Lincoln’s multiple violations of the Constitution, including the closing of hundreds of anti-war newspapers and the imprisonment of thousands of war opponents. While he clearly opposes slavery, Beech contends that it is not any of the business of New York State what the South does.
“We don’t want our Constitution dying, and we don’t want our boys dying with it,” Beech declares in one scene. In another part of the movie, his neighbor Avery, played by Peter Fonda, asks Beech, “Doesn’t the Union mean anything to you?” Beech said that, yes, the Union “means something. It means more than something.” But, the Constitution, New York State, his farm, and his own family “mean more.” He adds to Avery, “Even though we disagree, Avery, you mean more to me than the Union.” Even Beech’s minister uses the pulpit to compare Democrat politicians such as former President James Buchanan to the “blasphemous names” on the head of the biblical Great Beast of Revelation. On his way out of the church, Beech asks the preacher if “Blessed are the peace makers” is still in the Bible.
Beech and his hired hand, Irish immigrant Timothy Joseph Hurley, are forced into a fight with some belligerent pro-war Republicans at a polling place in the 1862 elections, when Hurley attempts to hand in his Democrat ballot. At first Hurley is denied the right to vote, even though he has proper naturalization papers and has been voting since 1852, boasting that he helped put Democrat Franklin Pierce into the White House. After a brief skirmish, both Hurley and Beech vote the Democrat ticket. The outcome of the election gives Beech and Hurley hope, as the Democrat candidate for governor, Horatio Seymour, narrowly defeated his Republican opponent. They hope that the Democrats will win control of Congress and shut the war down, bringing a swift end to the “houses of mourning” across the country.
To celebrate the Democrat victories of 1862, Beech throws a bonfire celebration, which he calls the “Fire of Liberty.” This enrages some of his pro-war neighbors, and moves the picture to its dramatic and surprising conclusion.
That should make you want to go again and again to Copperhead the movie! Remember, if this movie does well at the box office, it’ll get more buzz, more people will see it and more will be educated as to the truth about the so-called Civil War. Go see Copperhead as soon as you can.