There is a powerful message to be had in Copperhead and you won’t find a more poignant message in any of the other Civil War movies since this particular movie provides the moviegoer with the human aspect of the American Civil War that was fought by two opposing parties that had their very own ideas about what justice and liberty for all should look like. Most of the Civil War movies that you and I have been fortunate enough to see only focus on the overall battle itself, but fail to show the human side of things, which is to say that the well meaning movie makers and script writers don’t put enough emphasis on the individual feelings of those that lived through this troubling time in American history.

Copperhead breaks with the time honored tradition of showing bloody gun battles and dying soldiers and crying women and children because the emphasis is placed squarely on the ideas and on the feelings of many of the citizens that did not necessarily take part in the bloody gun battles for whatever reason.

There are several powerful scenes in the movie that no one will be able to forget and one of the scenes in the movie is centered on the widespread fear that was held by certain Northerners, and that had to do with the North possibly being infiltrated by certain Southerners as well as what terrorist attacks the Southerners might launch since they had clearly lost the war. One of the fears had to do with a possible biological attack that would cause a great deal of casualties throughout the entire North. You will experience the heart wrenching fear that some of the Northerners were living with even though the North had soundly defeated the South and could have easily destroyed their entire political and social and military structure, which would have barred them from policing themselves since they would have been completely occupied by Northern forces if those in Washington hadn’t lost their nerve and if they hadn’t given the defeated Southern military leadership safe passage.

There’s another scene that takes place after a son loses his father after he is overcome with grief due to his actions. The father was a staunch abolitionist and he stood for the equal treatment of blacks; however, he joined a mob of white men that committed an evil act against one of his fellow neighbors that had voted for the Democratic Party which was in favor of slavery. Besides the scenes that have already been mentioned you will also see how certain Democrats were unfairly treated by those that voted Republican as well as how the Irish were viewed.

I can’t say enough about the moving and superb performances of Billy Campbell and Angus Macfadyen and Peter Fonda and Lucy Boynton and Casey Thomas Brown and Josh Cruddas and Augustus Prew  because their outstanding performances in Copperhead clearly reveal the raw feelings that certain people had concerning the slaves and Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War itself. Plus the interested moviegoer will find out through this magnificent Ronald F. Maxwell film that certain citizens that were living during the Civil War era hadn’t had any interaction with the slaves, but were compelled to ask the tough questions due to their strong Christian values, and since they were aware of what was actually contained in the Holy Bible.

There were others that vehemently opposed President Lincoln since they openly stated that what he was doing was unconstitutional, and if left up to them, black Americans, who were just as much citizens as the whites were since the whites had forcibly taken the land from the Native Americans, would still be slaves, however, Abraham Lincoln took the courageous and unpopular stance that he did because he was compelled to do the right thing due to his personal convictions and since he had an undeniable responsibility to make sure that all Americans had full access to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I recommend that you see Copperhead because it provides a piece of American history that you don’t often hear being talked about since the emphasis is always on the individual gun battles as well as on the prominent members of the American Civil War that found themselves on both sides of the issue.

Copperhead was reviewed on July 25, 2013.

Nathaniel Armstrong, Jr.

Cerritos, CA –

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