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'Copperhead' hits all of Kauffman's themes, and is a big hit with screening audience


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The Batavian

Howard Owens

June 14, 2013


If Bill Kauffman sat down to write a screenplay, the result would surely be the movie "Copperhead."


The ideal Kauffman film would take a look at a side of history that is little known and rarely discussed. The lead character would be a dissenter, the holder of unpopular opinions who won't bow to conformity. The major themes would be love of family, community before nation, and fealty to the Constitution. It would show how war rips asunder these values as brutally as it maims bodies and damages souls.


This is, indeed, the movie "Copperhead," based on the 1893 novel, "The Copperhead," by Utica-born Harold Frederic. The screenplay is by Batavia's (and Elba's) own Bill Kauffman.




The story line -- without trying to give away too much -- is about a small Upstate New York farm community in 1862. The town is largely Republican with a view of the war in line with the Lincoln Administration.


Abner Beech opposes the war. He's a Democrat. He's no "slaver" he says, but he considers Lincoln's war unlawful.


"It is Abraham Lincoln," Beech tells Avery (played by Peter Fonda), "and his Republicans tearing us apart, and the Constitution. Closing down newspapers, putting critics in prison, enlisting mere boys to fight in his unconstitutional war."







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