Civil War Film Updates: “Copperhead” Blu-Ray Coming April 15; “To Appomattox” on the Way?


It has been a quiet last few months for me, but finally, thanks to recent history related media projects, including AMC’s Turn, I have found some things to write about:

  • It seems like forever, but Ron Maxwell’s Copperhead is finally getting released on Blu-Ray and DVD, next week, April 15. While the film did not do as well in theaters as I had hoped, this project will likely be an immense home video success, much like Gettysburg and Gods and Generals both were. Given the outstanding cinematography, I am expecting a great HD transfer that will be a feast for the eyes. Also, it is worthy to note that because the film garnered a PG-13 rating (and in my view, probably could have gotten just PG), the hope we can have is that this film will make its way into schools for use as an educational tool. The running time, family themes, and accessibility to people of all ages definitely makes this something that can be shown in a variety of settings, from trying to teach life on the homefront to middle schoolers, all the way up to high school and college with its dialogue about politics, anti-war sentiment, and states’ rights.

“What happened to love thy neighbor?”, A Review of Copperhead (2013)


History-based films always work the best when we can watch a particular story and relate to the characters, and then in our minds, just change a few things around, and all of a sudden, a movie set during a particular time period becomes very relevant to almost any era. This is what happens with Ron Maxwell’s Copperhead, a film so incredibly distanced from Gettysburg and Gods and Generals (both in content and style), in a sense that it takes the both-sides-are-right mentality and completely smashes it, instead, choosing to come right out and say that war is wrong, because no matter what side you are on, or what the result is, good people acting as mere pawns in a chess game for generals and politicians, will be killed and wounded regardless. The families and conflicts present in this movie could quite literally be anybody. Yes, they are dressed in 1860’s clothing and talk about far-gone politics, but switch a few items around, and the Beeches and Hagadorns (the two main families of this film) could be any, everyday people dealing with their children being sent off to fight in Vietnam, or perhaps more recent actions in the Middle East. It is a film that can reach out and touch us, bringing us into the history in a more intimate, down-to-earth way.

Copperhead does leave some to be desired, by way of certain actors needing more screen-time, and some characters who are not developed well-enough, but overall, this is a movie that people will be able to relate to and discuss, which is definitely very important for something so laden with politics. As has been said ad nauseum, this is nothing like Maxwell’s other Civil War movies, because the battleground is not of open fields and cannons, but of vitriolic politics, families divided, and homesteads being threatened by fire and rope. The civilian is an oft forgotten facet of all wars and their history, but thankfully this movie begins to show us that the men, women, and children far away from the battlefields were just as much warriors as the soldiers doing the fighting. All of this is helped along by the outstanding soundtrack by Laurent Eyquem, which contributes much to the feeling of the movie.

Continue reading ““What happened to love thy neighbor?”, A Review of Copperhead (2013)”

Interview with Laurent Eyquem, Soundtrack Composer for “Copperhead”


Every so often, I hear a score that transports me to another time and place, a piece of music that stands out from all of the rest. The music written by Laurent Eyquem for Copperhead fits that description. When I was invited to a private screening of the film back in December, before the picture was locked, I spoke with director Ron Maxwell before the show, and told him something that I had to think about with much deliberation: this melancholy yet uplifting soundtrack may be better than the one for Gods and Generals…it may have even surpassed Gettysburg. Ron smiled and noted that he loved the job Laurent did, and was very happy with the finished product. We both agreed on something else, and that was how kind and down-to-earth this composer was. Sometimes musicians can be very high-strung, or almost detached, but Laurent is as good a person as he is a musician. When I introduced myself to him via email before asking for an interview, he told me that he had already known of my work, because he had been following my blog for months, and even linked some articles on his website. We then conducted the interview below, which took place this past spring, and followed that with a lengthy conversation about films and music, and also about Copperhead, as he was curious to know my thoughts since I had seen the film already. It was a very fun and interesting afternoon.

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New “Copperhead” App to Check Out!

Copperhead Blog App

If there is one thing we have seen in the promotion and distribution of Ron Maxwell’s Copperhead, it is that the production team is not afraid to integrate new aspects and technology in order to boost viewership and appeal to modern audiences. We have seen some groundbreaking new ways of interacting with fans, namely through the “Demand” feature, which has prospective audience members get involved and show why the film should make it to a theater near them. For independent films, this is going to be the future. Now, I have a new bit to share with you, called the “Copperhead Blog App”, which you can access by clicking here. This app allows you to test your Civil War knowledge through trivia games, check out a massive gallery of behind-the-scenes photos, and perhaps most uniquely, have the ability to download recipes of dishes that would have been cooked in the 1860’s time-period that Copperhead takes place in. Talk about bringing history alive! Please check it out.

The app also includes a countdown to the June 28 release day. We’re only 17 days away! How excited are you?

Interview with “Copperhead” Costume Designer Kate Rose


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:

Continue reading “Interview with “Copperhead” Costume Designer Kate Rose”

Interview with “Copperhead” Actor Josh Cruddas


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!

Continue reading “Interview with “Copperhead” Actor Josh Cruddas”

“Copperhead” Official Trailer and New Movie Poster Released


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.

Continue reading ““Copperhead” Official Trailer and New Movie Poster Released”

Tentative “Copperhead” Release Date Set for June 28


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.

Can There be Such a Thing as a “Family” Civil War Movie?


Can you believe that there are actually people out there in this world who watch movies together as a family, and then sit and discuss them? I personally know of a few who do, and some who don’t, but probably would if there was something worth discussing. Just last spring, when I was teaching a course on World War II, I sent out notice that we would be watching parts of Schindler’s List after school. A few days later, a parent called me asking, “Could you please tell me what scenes you will be showing so I can discuss the film with my son when he gets home? It was such a powerful movie when I first saw it.” This actually made me very happy, to find out that there are people who watch films and talk about their meaning, or the effect they leave on the viewer. The Civil War is a surprisingly family-oriented subject, not just with the actual history of soldiers going off to war, and sometimes finding themselves on the battlefield fighting against good friends and even family members on occasion, but because of what the modern tradition of reenacting has done for “living” history. We see with many re-enactors, how it was the father who first got involved as a soldier, and then after a few years, the wife joined as a soldier’s companion or battlefield nurse, and later still, the small children getting involved with dressing up and becoming a drummer boy, or something along those lines. It must be assumed that these families watch Civil War movies together because they are all into the subject so much, but sometimes, that can be a difficult task.

“Copperhead Courier”: Ron Maxwell’s Message to American History Enthusiasts


Good afternoon, everyone! Just wanted to share this quick post with you, which is something that Ron Maxwell, the director of Copperhead, wrote on his Facebook this afternoon. Recognizing the importance of social media and word-of-mouth when it comes to publicity with films and other entertainment mediums, this is a message regarding what YOU can do to help the success of his upcoming film, slated for a summer release. If you love American history, film, and when the two meet, please help spread the word, by telling friends who are also interested in the subject, and even sharing the links of the official website (which includes my official blog of the film), the production’s Facebook and Twitter pages, and this blog as well. Together, as students of history, we can accomplish something. I’ll leave Ron to tell the rest:

Continue reading ““Copperhead Courier”: Ron Maxwell’s Message to American History Enthusiasts”