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Copperhead: Movie Review

Hannah Goodwyn


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Gettysburg director Ron Maxwell unveils another Civil War-era film this weekend with the limited release of his new movie, Copperhead. Starring Billy Campbell (The Rocketeer) and Angus MacFadyen (Braveheart), the story looks at the effect of the war far away from the battlefields, seeking to ask the question, what happened to love thy neighbor?

Rated PG-13, Copperhead does require some caution when younger audiences are concerned. However, for those of age, this film has a lot to offer, especially when it comes to its identifiable characters figuring out how the Word of God applies to their lives and the turmoil America faces.  


Politics and faith come to a head when Abner Beech (Billy Campbell) and his few friends argue against the actions of Abraham Lincoln, calling the war a travesty. Against slavery, Beech holds fast to his conviction that war is not the answer to the country’s problems. The debate escalates to an all-out fight in his Upstate New York hometown when his neighbors, led by Jee Hagadorn (Angus MacFadyen), turn against him.


Maxwell directed this story, hoping to take a different perspective on the War Between the States. While Gettysburg and Gods and Generals, in some ways, asked why good men fight, Copperhead poses the question: why do good men not fight? When is it right, just and godly to pick up or lay down the sword?

If you’re expecting Copperhead to be a typical war movie, you will be disappointed. Though it is set in the Civil War, the war itself is the backdrop alone. There are no battle scenes. Instead, audiences witness a moving story about how war affects a small northern community. Frankly, it is a respite from the big budget non-stop action flicks that often crowd the theater marquees during the summer months. What Copperhead offers is a dramatic, slowly unfolding realization that our words and actions matter, that debate should not lead to hatred and that our neighbors are not our enemies.

Rated PG-13 for an unsettling sequence, Copperhead is a fairly safe bet, content wise. Its subtle intensity pulls you in, making you care about these people and what happens to them. A solid written script by Bill Kauffman showcases a few noteworthy performances from Campbell, MacFadyen and supporting actor Augustus Prew (who plays Ni Hagadorn).


Don’t expect Lincoln or even Gettysburg. Understand this is not a typical big-budget war movie. Copperhead is different, and that’s a good thing.

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About The Author


Hannah Goodwyn served as a Senior Producer for, managing and writing for the award-winning website. After her undergraduate studies at Christopher Newport University, Hannah went on to study Journalism at the graduate level. In 2005, she graduated summa cum laude with her Master's from Regent University and was honored with an Outstanding Student Award. From there, Hannah began work as a content producer for For ten years, she acted as the managing producer for the website's Family and Entertainment sections. A movie buff, Hannah felt right at home working as's