Dissent: often scorned, sometimes praised, always misunderstood. The American Civil War is sometimes called the Second American Revolution or the Second War of Independence, yet the American Revolution is never referred to as our country’s first Civil War. And why not? One could argue that the situations are exactly the same. In both cases, a percentage of the population wanted to remove themselves from a ruler they perceived as tyrannical. Don’t think Abraham Lincoln was a tyrant? Well, there were plenty of people that didn’t think King George III was either.
Due to reasons beyond my control, I have not been able to be active with postings on the official Copperhead website, nor have I been able to share the few interviews with cast and crew members that I have gathered over the last few weeks. However, I still want to do my part in helping to get Copperhead into as many theaters as possible. Though the cast and storyline is stellar, we must remember that this film is still an “Indie” and it will take a grassroots effort to expand the viewership to markets not just near Civil War battlefields on the east coast. There is a very cool feature available through the main website called “Demand this Movie”, where fans can literally enter in their zip code to demand that this film comes to a theater in their area. I believe that this is the future of film distribution, and you can take part in this exciting movement by clicking here and helping to get this movie to a theater near you! Copperhead is currently doing very well with demands in New York and Los Angeles, but there are many cities in between that need to see this movie! Thank you for your help.
As we all know, the production company for the still-in-limbo To Appomattox miniseries project, Sony, has recently severed ties with them after years of holding the rights got absolutely nowhere. There are a good number of people following this massive Civil War project who feel they are being misled by the people in charge, but after speaking to a source close to the situation, the individual was very clear that peoples’ anger should be directed at the company who “held them hostage”, not the other way around. This was not a deflection of my questions, but a rather comprehensive explanation of all that has been going on over the last five years, and I believe it to be true—if I didn’t, I would not be writing this. It was a lot to digest, but I am of the opinion that the producers of To Appomattox and their cast and crew still have the utmost enthusiasm in the project, and that it certainly is not dead. There are a few concerns that need to be looked at, but overall, I do think they are now moving in the right direction.
If there is a film that is going to be new and innovative regarding the Civil War or battle of Gettysburg, chances are its director is going to be Robert Child, the man behind Gettysburg: The Boys in Blue & Gray, Gettysburg: Three Days of Destiny, and the very popular Lincoln and Lee at Antietam: The Cost of Freedom. When I interviewed him two years ago, he hinted at what possibly might be coming for the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg, which he will be tasked with directing and producing the official commemorative film for, titled, Gettysburg: Final Measure of Devotion, which I guess you could say will act as the capstone to his unofficial Gettysburg documentary trilogy. The actual film itself is slated to be released on Remembrance Day in November, on Blu-Ray and DVD. There is also plans of a broadcast on PBS next year, in addition to it hitting local theaters in the fall.
The only thing more prevalent on television nowadays than sexual innuendo is stupidity, or in the case of the History Channel, irrelevance…or maybe both? Just when you thought the network may have been turning over a new leaf with scripted dramas such as The Bible and Vikings, and a powerful documentary series, The Men Who Built America, which I find myself wholeheartedly enjoying, the History Channel has gone back to its recent roots of trying to scrounge up the most ridiculous concept not even worthy of a time slot on TLC (remember when that actually used to stand for The Learning Channel?) and turn it into a regular series. If you thought Swamp People was bad, then you are just going to love Chasing Tail, which is, you guessed it, a show about deer hunting, that starts this April! But that would be too simple, wouldn’t it? To be more specific, it is about a group of “blue-collar” hunters in suburban Connecticut who are paid by the wealthy to kill the surplus of deer in the area who wander on to their property—the synopsis for the second episode has them shooting deer from the back deck of a mansion. The one thing this show has going for it, though, is that the “hunters” actually have all their teeth, and appear to be keeping their shirts on for the duration of the show, or at least as far as I could tell in the tiny preview I saw air a few days ago. Of course, my first thought was how is this history? But then I recollected their lineup of regular shows, which includes American Pickers, American Restoration, Ax Men, Big Rig Bounty Hunters, Counting Cars, Pawn Stars, Swamp People, Top Gear, and Ultimate Soldier Challenge, and I didn’t feel so lost.
Just this past week, the official trailer and updated poster for Ron Maxwell’s Copperhead, which will hit theaters on June 28th, was released, much to the excitement of fans, who have waited nearly 10 years for another Civil War film from the director of Gettysburg and Gods and Generals. The trailer, amongst fans, has generated a lot of discussion and rave reviews. Also garnering excitement is the new movie poster, which I must say is much better than the original, and really captures and essence and intensity of what this film is about—the American flag backdrop was totally necessary, to convey the point that even with all the strife and how this country was torn apart, we were all Americans in the end. It also includes the tagline, “Patriot to some. Traitor to others.”, which is central to the main character of Billy Campbell, as well as the entire Copperhead political movement as a whole, due to their anti-war feelings.
It has been coined “the greatest movie never made”– Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon, which is ironic, considering the director himself stated during preparation in the 1960′s that it would be “the greatest movie ever made”. It was going to be one of the most ambitious projects ever put to celluloid, as the rigorous taskmaster researched for years, reading a supposed 40 books, and scouting hundreds of locations. He had everything set except a budget and a cast, and even the massive extras he would need for the would-be fantastic battle scenes were going to be supplied by the Romanian Army, a total of nearly 50,000 men, including infantry and cavalry. It was going to be one of the most accurate and stunning movies…ever. Then what happened? How did one of the world’s greatest directors, fresh off his Academy Award-winning triumph 2001: A Space Odyssey not get such a project made? Well, in 1970, in the midst of Kubrick’s preparation, Sergei Bondarchuk’s epic film Waterloo bombed horrifically at the box office. While it included some of the greatest battle scenes ever filmed, the acting was wooden and hammy, and studios feared that American audiences could not handle another cinematic adventure involving military commanders and events that had nothing to do with America. And so the project was shelved for years…and years…and years, until finally all hope was lost; the director died before his dream would ever be realized.
If anything, I was hoping that History Channel’s Vikings would do a lot to demystify the fascinating culture from the north, one that has been relegated to mere stereotypes and caricatures over the years when looking at their portrayals. The Norsemen are often seen as one-dimensional figures, who have a bloodthirsty craving for violence, rape, and pillaging, with their interactions between each other bordering on unintelligible muttering. Based on what this network has put out in recent years, I was expecting exactly that, only with a couple of horned helmets thrown into the mix. So far, though, after the first episode, I am quite impressed and happy with the overall look and feel of this coming ten-part series, which could expand into future seasons. It is not perfect, as nothing ever is, and there are a few cringe moments, but I actually found myself enjoying the first episode, and am anxious for the rest of the series. Below are some highlights and what stood out to me the most:
Just one little observation of the History Channel’s upcoming miniseries bonanza, The Bible, which will be premiering on March 3rd. Part of me says this network has learned their lesson after the immense success of Hatfields & McCoys, but the other part of me says this is still the History Channel, and is destined to make some kind of glorious mistake. No, we are not talking about the guy who portrayed General Barksdale in Gettysburg looking like an Elvis Presley impersonator, or even their obsession with that family of inbred, toothless hicks sailing around swamps in the middle of nowhere blasting alligator brains out with shotguns. We are talking about something that matters to a lot of people, and that is the treatment of the greatest story ever written, which is sacred to hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, I am not going to pick apart the teaser or even the extended look trailer scene-by-scene, but something that caught my eyes and ears was the portrayal of Jesus and his apostles (aside from the guy playing Moses looking like the lead singer of a death metal band).
Some people were expecting the worst from National Geographic’s Killing Lincoln, for two reasons: Bill O’Reilly’s book of the same title was littered with inaccuracies, and the production team of Ridley and Tony Scott, along with director Adrian Moat, recently produced one of the most inept and historically insulting documentaries ever made, Gettysburg, back in 2011. Hosted and narrated by Tom Hanks, this is a docudrama which surpasses Gettysburg, distances itself slightly from the book, yet at the same time, does not adequately deliver the entertainment one would expect here, which I will address later. Billy Campbell, whose other Civil War-era film, Copperhead, is slated to be released in June, does a decent job as President Abraham Lincoln. It would be absolutely unfair to compare him to Daniel Day-Lewis, so on his own he is fine. The performance is very calm, quiet, and subdued and I have no problem with the voice he used, which is not accurately high-pitched, but also is not the typical Hollywood deep voice we have heard over the years. The production team used Campbell and his talents as best as they could. However, considering that this film is about killing Lincoln, and Lincoln dies just after the midway point, it did leave a lot to be desired.