Costume designers are extremely underrated members of any film production crew, because more often than not, we do not realize exactly how much work goes into fitting hundreds of cast-members, even though we find ourselves staring right at them on the screen. For a history-related film more than any other, it is of the utmost importance that the clothing the characters are wearing is correct, especially with a director at the helm who is known to go for an authenticity down to the buttons on a coat or shirt. While many of the background extras were members of the living history settlement where Copperhead was filmed, all of their clothing was not dated to the Civil War time period, as they portray 1800′s Canadian townspeople and farmers, not upstate New Yorkers from the 1860′s. Thus the tedious journey began, to not only design uniforms for the various soldiers who come in and out of the film (and whose uniforms are well-documented), but to come up with accurate renditions of the clothing “normal” people of the time would wear. The immense task of fitting the cast of Copperhead fell to Kate Rose, who has eighteen other titles of work to her name, spanning both film and television. Having seen the film already, I would like to comment that she did an outstanding job. It may be ironic, but sometimes it takes a person to not even notice the costumes to realize how great a job the designer did. What I mean is, because everything looked so real, both clothing and scenery wise, sometimes it is easy to forget we are watching a movie, and only when we step back do we say, “Wow”. Simple but elegant would be the proper way to describe her work. I had the chance to interview Kate by email. Our conversation is below:
The first actor I interviewed involved with Copperhead was Josh Cruddas, which happened right after filming began. We just went for the basics and he promised me another interview once filming ended, to give a better picture of his overall experience. Since I am lucky enough to have already seen the movie, I can say that Josh does a wonderful job in the role of Jimmy, who is kind of like the main character, Abner Beech’s, adopted son. Copperhead begins with Josh reciting the opening narration, setting the stage for the story to come—some of that narration can be heard in the voice-over on the trailer. As good of an actor as Josh is though, he is an even better person. We have remained in touch all this time, and I am proud to know such an aspiring young actor, who has such a bright future ahead of him. Though he has acted before, hopefully this will serve as his “big break”. At the end of our interview, Josh added, “All in all, playing Jimmy in Copperhead was a life-changing adventure for me, and I’ve made many new friends while creating a film that I believe will be something special. I need to thank Ron for giving me the chance to be in a picture like this, and I’m so grateful for the support I’ve received from everyone involved in the production and from folks back home and around the world. I feel very blessed.” Below is our full interview. Enjoy!
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.
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.
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.
Hello Gods and Generals fans, it’s been a while since I wrote anything on one of our favorite films, so I just wanted to share this resource with you. How many times have I watched this movie, maybe 30 or 40 all together, including full viewings and clips from when I teach? I’ve also written nearly 60 articles on the film and conducted many interviews with cast and crew members. That said, I must admit, even I did not pay such close attention to detail as the website I am about to show you did. Titled Movie-Censorship (strange title, I know), this website does scene-by-scene comparisons of films in both their original and extended cuts, down to, literally, the slightest detail. The mega-site happened to do one for Gods and Generals, and while we all know of the major changes that were made in 2011 to the 2003 theatrical version, there are many other little things that you probably would not have even noticed. Please click here to check out the site.
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.
A release date for Ron Maxwell’s Copperhead has been set for June 28. The premiere for the film will be held sometime in the week prior, in Washington D.C, before opening near Civil War battlefields along the east coast. We are all very excited! Stay tuned for more information as we get closer, as well as for additional interviews with cast and crew members.
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:
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.