The Copperhead Chronicles: Maxwell Discusses the Film-Making Journey with “The American Spectator”

Well, this is an interesting read, and yet another thing that I have stumbled upon accidentally in The Free Library, which is a massive collection of all sorts of writings from a wide variety of authors, available to the public in this immense online database. This is an essay that director Ron Maxwell wrote for The American Spectator back in 2010, where he touches a little bit on the film-making journey, and what novels he would like to adapt to films. He discusses Copperhead a little bit at the end; I have only posted what is relevant. To read the entire article, click here. Please enjoy “Meanderings Through Historical Fiction”, by Ron Maxwell:

My heading of fiction is often burdened by a tendency to see a movie in the pages. Most times the thought of the effort and time involved in committing myself to such a preposterous journey is enough to deter me from taking even the first perilous steps. Occasionally, however, the lure of the literary work, its characters and themes, the dialogue, action, and plot stir up such a frenzy of enthusiasm, such an excitement of the imagination that with a heavy sigh I resign myself to yet another quixotic escapade across a minefield of sprocket-holed dreams and Hollywood pitch meetings, trying to explain the insanities of the film business to highly skeptical investors, trying to justify another decade building an opera house in the middle of the Amazonian jungle.

As the list of novels I’d like to adapt to film has grown ever longer, whatever time allotted to me in this life has grown ever shorter. Hence the acute realization that most of these books won’t make my cut. Indeed, any film could be your last. All sorts of genres are on my little list, but I’ll confine myself today to four novels which may be of particular interest to readers of The American Spectator. Each of the authors, heralded in their own day, has in recent times fallen into an ill-deserved obscurity.

Harold Frederic’s The Copperhead (1899), which the great American critic Edmund Wilson praised as a brave and singular book that “differs fundamentally from any other Civil War fiction,” is the story of Abner Beech, a stubborn and righteous farmer of upstate New York, who defies his neighbors and his government in the bloody and contentious autumn of 1862.

The Copperhead is a story of the violent passions and burning feuds that set ablaze the home front, a timeless and deeply moving examination of the price of dissent, the place of the individual amidst the hysteria of wartime, and the awful cost of war—a cost measured not in dollars but in fractured families, broken loves, and men dead before their time. I’ve already embarked on this cinematic journey: a screenplay adaptation has been written and we are in the process of casting the movie for filming in the summer of 2011.

Altogether, the wonder of these four authors is in capturing both the zealotry of the Utopian mind and the intellect of the man of liberty. If in their reading anyone agrees with me that they would make great films and has access to tens of millions of investment capital–do call.

So it appears that filming for Copperhead was actually slated for last year originally, but thankfully the wheels are finally in motion here for the spring of 2012, as casting has already begun. Perhaps the hype surrounding the director’s cut releases of Gods and Generals and Gettysburg was the catalysts needed for this to come to fruition. Filming is currently scheduled to take place this coming May and June. Please click here for this blog’s page devoted entirely to the film.

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