Copperhead (2013 film)

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Copperhead 2013 film.jpg
film poster
Directed by Ron Maxwell
Produced by Bryan Cassels
Screenplay by Bill Kauffman
Story by Harold Frederic
Music by Laurent Eyquem
Cinematography Kees Van Oostrum
Swordspoint Productions
Brainstorm Media
Distributed by Film Collective
Release date
  • June 28, 2013 (2013-06-28)
Running time
118 minutes
Country Canada
United States
Language English
Box office $171,740[1]

Copperhead is an independent Canadian/American film directed by Ron Maxwell. It stars Billy Campbell. Shot at Kings Landing Historical Settlement in New Brunswick, Canada and set in upstate New York, it was released June 28, 2013. The film is based on a 19th-century novel, The Copperhead, by Harold Frederic. The title refers to Northern opponents of the American Civil War, known as Copperheads.


In a rural community upstate New York in 1862, farmer Abner Beech is a Northern antiwar Democrat. While his neighbors take up the Union cause in the ongoing American Civil War, Beech believes that coercion in resisting the secession of the southern states is unconstitutional, and gradually becomes more and more harassed for his views, derisively called a "Copperhead". His son, Thomas Jefferson Beech, enlists in the Union Army. Beech also arouses the ire of militant abolitionist Jee Hagadorn, whose daughter Esther (Lucy Boynton) loves Jeff.



The film had the working title Copperhead: The War at Home.[citation needed] Filmed at Kings Landing Historical Settlement in New Brunswick, Canada,[2] Jason Patric initially starred,[2] but was replaced by Billy Campbell after production commenced due to what director Maxwell called "creative differences".[3] Copperhead was produced by Ron Maxwell and co-produced by John Houston.


Box office[edit]

Copperhead opened in limited theatrical release June 28, 2013, playing in 59 theaters and was simultaneously released in video-on-demand platforms including Amazon Video. The film ultimately grossed $171,740.[1]

Critical response[edit]

Copperhead received mostly negative reviews. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 21% approval rating with an average rating of 4.7/10, based on 19 reviews.[4]

Stephanie Merry of The Washington Post gave the film two out of four stars, remarking, "The story offers uncommon insights on the endlessly parsed period in history, but its execution sometimes falls short. Both the production quality and the persistent, sentimental soundtrack create a made-for-TV feel"[5] Mark Olsen of the Los Angeles Times shared similar criticism, opining, "Where Tony Kushner's screenplay for Steven Spielberg's Lincoln found energetic drama in political wrangling and historical events, Copperhead crams far too much of its action into its last 30 minutes after a rambling, drawn-out set up. Painfully lugubrious, any sting Copperhead might contain for its contrarian's view of history is undone by its wayward sense of storytelling."[6]

Christine N. Ziemba of Paste magazine wrote Copperhead a fairly mixed review, stating "Despite good performances throughout the film, the pacing of Copperhead is slow, with many long takes and establishing shots that seem a bit over-indulgent, as if to remind viewers that they’re watching an 'important, yet little-known, historical drama.'"[7] Despite ultimately giving the movie a mixed review, John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter optimistically stated, "Theatrical prospects are meager [...], but history buffs may appreciate its earnest look at an underexplored subject on small screens."[8]

Relation to director's previous works[edit]

Copperhead is Maxwell's third Civil War film, though the director does not consider it to be part of the trilogy he has planned along with Gettysburg (1993) and Gods and Generals (2003), as he expects to conclude the series with a final film based on Jeff Shaara's The Last Full Measure.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Copperhead". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 28, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Vlessing, Etan (May 28, 2012). "Copperhead Shoot Embraces New Brunswick". PlayBack. Brunico Communications Ltd. 
  3. ^ Patten, Dominic (June 5, 2012). "'The Killing's' Billy Campbell Replaces Jason Patric on 'Copperhead'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 10, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Copperhead (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  5. ^ Merry, Stephanie (27 June 2013). "'Copperhead' movie review". The Washington Post. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  6. ^ Olsen, Mark (27 June 2013). "Wayward pace tarnishes 'Copperhead'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  7. ^ Ziemba, Christine N. (27 June 2013). "Copperhead". Paste. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  8. ^ DeFore, John (25 June 2013). "'Gettysburg' director Ron Maxwell looks at Northern opposition to the Civil War". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  9. ^ Raleigh, Brendan (May 30, 2013). "Maxwell's 'Copperhead' to Strike on Screen for Civil War Anniversary". Frederick Gorilla. Frederick, Maryland. Retrieved May 30, 2013. 

External links[edit]