Paul Buhle & Dave Wagner Review Copperhead

Authors of Radical Hollywood, Paul Buhle and Dave Wager write:

Bill Kauffman, a vigorous antiwar activist ambiguously on the rightward side of American politics, jumps right into the thick of it in the opening scenes of his screenplay for Copperhead, the new Civil War movie by the director of Gettysburg (1993). Kauffman’s protagonist, an antiwar farmer in upstate New York, is heard reading aloud to his sons in the spring of 1862: “Benjamin Wade, a Republican of Ohio, says anyone who quotes the Constitution in the current crisis is a traitor. But listen how a Democrat paper in Ohio gave it right back to him: ‘Such an abolitionist should be hung until the flesh rots off his bones and the winds of Heaven whistle Yankee Doodle through his loathsome skeleton.'”

The language is fair warning of what’s to come. Copperhead, which opens June 28, is the rare movie (maybe even the only one) that portrays a Peace Democrat as a sympathetic character even though he refused to choose between two of the vilest institutions of human invention, war and slavery. If anyone was suited to write this kind of narrative, it is Kauffman, a hometown radical who detests wars in proportion to the nobility of purpose their supporters claim for them and large corporations in proportion to the destruction they bring to the independence of actual established communities.

Read the rest at Swans Commentary.

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