A new film on the civil war opens nationwide June 28th. Copperhead is premiering Thursday night at the Atlanta History Center. It is the story of an upstate New York farmer who opposes the war in the 1860's. His community turns on him because he doesn't support the war. The movie is based on the book "The Copperhead", written in 1893 by Harold Fredric.
The political group was dubbed the Copperhead movement as a derisive term to indicate that northerners against the war were venomous snakes.
Director Ron Maxwell says no film has ever explored the movement and that attracted him to the story.
“In their search to find out how to behave ethically, they come up with different solutions, different ideas. And they end up at each other’s throats." he says. That’s a tragedy in a micro-sense of this story and in a macro-sense of the entire civil war. So Copperhead the movie, in a sense, I see it as a parable for the war.”
Maxwell says he wanted to focus on the price of dissent. “It’s one little community, but it shows how the whole war divided families, fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, neighbors. It truly did divide the country. Not just across the Mason Dixon line but within the entire American family.”
This is the third film on the civil war Maxwell has directed. He wrote and directed the civil war epics "Gettysburg" and "Gods and Generals".
Maxwell says there are still questions today about how much power the government should have in war time.
The movie stars Billy Campbell, Angus Macfadyen and Peter Fonda.
Here's a link to the University of Chapel Hill's online library to Harold Fredric's novel "The Copperhead".