Copperhead

 (258)
2h2013PG-13
This historical drama shows the American Civil War from an intimate, heart-breaking perspective. Copperhead is the Civil War's untold story.
Directors
Ron Maxwell
Starring
Billy CampbellPeter FondaFrançois Arnaud
Genres
Military and WarDrama
Subtitles
English [CC]
Audio languages
English
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Supporting actors
Angus Macfadyen
Producers
Ron Maxwell
Studio
Swordspoint Productions
Rating
PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Content advisory
Smokingalcohol usefoul languageviolence
Purchase rights
Stream instantly Details
Format
Prime Video (streaming online video)
Devices
Available to watch on supported devices

Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

258 global ratings

  1. 54% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 16% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 10% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 8% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 12% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

JimmyJackJingoReviewed in the United States on December 4, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Timeless Message of 'Love Thy Neighbor'
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My five stars are about the message of this movie: "love thy neighbor." Love is truly accepting someone for themselves, not as we would have them be, and that includes profound differences in philosophy, religion and opinion.

This movie resonates profoundly with me because my great-great-great grandfather is buried under a Civil War headstone, in the cemetery of a chapel for which he donated four acres of land to bury a black freeman killed by lightning while working on my ancestor's land. At the time, there was no black cemetery in the county. This chapel is now a Texas Historical Monument and, for me, a visible social dichotomy of the War Between the States.

My ancestor did not own slaves; yet, he was compelled to join 'The Cause.' Considering he was not a slaveholder, I seriously doubt he joined the 18th Texas Infantry so some other wealthy man could own slaves, which is precisely how Southerners are portrayed by those reducing the Civil War to the sole issue of slavery. There is no question the South seceded over the issue of slavery. Almost every article of secession from every Southern state is a testament to this fact.

But slavery is NOT why Lincoln invaded the South, secession was the reason for the conflict, and this intent is carefully and precisely constructed in Lincoln's First Inaugural Address on 04 March 1861 in which he states:

"I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so."

Lincoln continues at length to explain how he believes The Founders meant the Union to be perpetual and that secession was unconstitutional and, in fact, insurrection. He also states that he will not permit secession to stand. But don't take my word for it...Lincoln's own words elucidate these intentions very clearly. Fort Sumter simply gave Lincoln the excuse he needed, even though South Carolina had been attempting to negotiate with President Buchanan for months over the fort's disposition.

Because of my own family history, I have taken an expanded interest in the Civil War. I have read a great deal of material and visited many of the battlefields in which the sacrifices of both combatants are honored. As I stood in the midst of the spirits of the dead in places such as Shiloh, Bull Run or Malvern Hill, I could not help but think that common Southern farm boys laid their lives on the line for the right to secede, not so wealthy men could own slaves. And the Northern farm boys and city workers that fought them were laying their lives on the line to maintain the Union, not free someone else's slaves.

Indeed, Lincoln's initial calls to arms were calls to maintain the Union, not free slaves. In fact, entire Northern regiments left the field when Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

But the modern opinion that the Civil War was not fought solely over a matter of slavery is just as unpopular today as this movie's Abner Beech's character maintaining Lincoln's war was unconstitutional. Understanding the chasm of the two societies requires research history with empathy, compassion and an open mind. It requires one to love thy neighbor and embrace all the differences that come with it.
5 people found this helpful
DaveReviewed in the United States on April 27, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
Unexpected True Story
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The true history of the American Civil War is a living subtle monster that most of America and those worldwide shove down and cover up with falsehoods. Heroic Lincoln, pro or anti-slavery, racism primarily in the South-- all side-winding cover-up distractions from what really happened. If those are side-winding distractions, what, then, really did happen?
The answer is for those who value the truth, and Copperhead presents the truth so that those who have ears may hear it.
Movies don't usually come as good as Copperhead. Movies aren't usually as researched, as story-telling, as old-fashioned, as Copperhead. Movies aren't usually as willing to present the truth delectably as Copperhead.
The research is unusually thorough. The accuracy is down to the minutest detail, with a strong Irish presence felt as it was at the time, the Irish discrimination, the simple, hard working lifestyles, the central influence of the church, the singing, classic story-telling around a pot-belly stove, the equipment, machinery, animals, even the way the viewer perceives everything through the camera lens is settled and old fashioned like the times.
Particularly it is uplifting to hear the truth so gently, artfully, but unwaveringly presented in such a complete breakaway from the usual hesitancy to face up to what really happened.
So if anyone is looking to watch a good movie, a well-researched, beautifully story-telling, old fashioned movie, if anyone is looking to watch a movie that candidly tells the truth, go no further than Copperhead.
~Georgia Belle

(Note: There is one star less in this review as a result of a graphic death of the villain. Skip that scene. Also, there is a few kiss scenes. Those are unnecessary.)
3 people found this helpful
Dave R.Reviewed in the United States on August 25, 2021
1.0 out of 5 stars
Victors Write The History
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Victors get to write the history, and in this case, the Northern history is a big fat lie. Any historian worth his salt knows that the war between the states was not over slavery. Lincoln didn't even propose the Emancipation Proclamation to free slaves until 1863, years after the war had been going on. And in his debates with Stephen Douglas, Lincoln even said he had not intention of ending slavery. He was just another political liar that would be anybody's dog that would hunt with him.
3 people found this helpful
ArdenulReviewed in the United States on April 11, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Best History Movie in a Long While
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Beautifully made film with rock-solid history behind it. The final scenes will knock you over. Amazing work by the younger actors - superb attention to historical detail. Voting tickets, check. Contemporary music, check. Political divisions in Upstate New York, check. (One town in Upstate New York even seceded in 1860, it was that divided.) Check your pre-conceived notions at the door. The film even gets the language right. It warms a historian's heart. For once, the horses didn't steal every scene by default.
16 people found this helpful
zerolagtimeReviewed in the United States on July 16, 2013
4.0 out of 5 stars
Great changeup from the typical battle movie
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Battle movies are interesting, but battle scenes and the politics behind them have been beat to death. Copperhead is a refreshing change of pace, focusing on the culture of a small New York town struggling to determine whether they want their sons to go off to war to fight for someone who has never personally harmed them.
From a film perspective, this was pretty well done. Every character had just the right amount of depth. Lighting and other camera work was all done superbly. Costume design was done pretty well except for one part where two actors appear on screen looking 90% identical - keep your eyes peeled to keep it straight. The story is well told, with pacing going very appropriately. If you're only going to watch this movie once, remember that Jimmy is adopted. It isn't a key fact but will distract you from the main story if you don't know it.
From a digital movie perspective, Amazon charged $7 for 7 days to rent when I'd rather get $2 for 2 days. Little long for my taste. But what killed me is that this $7 rental had the worst compression settings. Scenes with smoke were unbearable and very, very distracting. Every other scene had distracting blocks from the compression. I've seen pirate rips of theater showings that looked better than this constant bitrate encoding. The HD version was $10 for the same time frame. Given that there are no high-action scenes in this movie, why not just do the HD version for $7? I really enjoyed the movie, but Amazon's treatment of the digital encoding irritated me enough to drop it a star.
20 people found this helpful
John RonningReviewed in the United States on December 7, 2019
4.0 out of 5 stars
A good education in seldom discussed aspects of the civil war
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Some pluses: (1) great scenery (supposed to be upstate New York - actually Canada but that's OK); (2) nice depiction of the current small town rural culture, not just dress and customs but things like a water driven sawmill; (3) the protagonist gives very cogent and well reasoned arguments for opposing the war (chiefly, the enormous cost in blood, which of course was not obvious in the beginning; Lincoln's "liberties" with the Constitution [which in fairness, he was aware of but thought them justified as emergency measures]), arguments often overlooked in simplistic accounts of the war. Some negatives: (4) chiefly, the other side is represented mostly through a hyper-caricatured, buffoonish hypocrite who is an abolitionist, and a mean local pastor, and those who are for the war are represented mostly as just carried along with emotion. There is no "battlefield action" but the battlefield is brought home the same way that people of that town saw the war, through newspapers and returning dead and wounded, in which there is some good drama.
Suha Qattan-WalshReviewed in the United States on July 25, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
Good film about a seldom considered aspect of Civil War history.
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I might have taken issue with the fact that the Copperhead Abner Beech seems the most admirable character in the film, and that his Democratic Party loyalist and constitutional liberty based dissent from Lincoln's war on the secessionist South was perhaps on the more principled and law abiding end of the Copperhead sentiment in the North. Historically, Copperheads did act as a pro-Confederate fifth column in some instances. Since this film is set in upstate New York but features a prominent Irish character it may be a bit disingenuous never to make reference to the July 1863 New York City draft riots in which many blacks were lynched by mostly Irish mobs resisting conscription. But the film's message also seems timely to me. Good people can disagree about very important things, and even be wrong about something for good reasons sometimes. Its important to refrain from judging others until its really, absolutely necessary which is mostly never for human beings someone once said over and over. War is one thing I think I should always try to respect other opinions about, especially if I might happen to support it and they don't.
G. ProutReviewed in the United States on February 6, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
Absolutely Lovely Movie
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I wasn't sure what to expect from this movie. I wasn't sure if it was going to be a movie about resisting an unjust war or freeing slaves or a full on civil war action movie. If anything it was just a tragic tale of two families on opposing sides of a war, but within the same small, rural town. The story shows how an absolute and uncompromising view of the Constitution would have made someone extremely unpopular in the 1860's. I really appreciated seeing that as most depictions of anyone not 100% gung-ho about fighting for the Union present the only alternative as some inbred hick retard from the south, which is wishful thinking at best or even outright historical revisionism.

I really enjoyed the story. It had sweet, tender moments and painfully sad scenes. The props and wardrobes were top notch. The cinematography was beautiful. The score and people singing was fantastic and really helped immerse me into the story and setting. What really got to me though was the acting. I could really feel the internal struggles going through the minds of the characters. They did a fantastic job projecting their emotions onto the screen.

I often tear up during war movies. This movie had almost no action so I wouldn't call it a typical war movie but it absolutely deals with a reality faced by people during times of war, and I really felt for Abner and his household. The ending was bittersweet but left me feeling good about the story. I highly recommend this film.
One person found this helpful
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